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Central Texas food pantries see more demand, less support in summer months

Feed the Need food pantries
Posted at 6:31 PM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 19:31:26-04

WACO, TX — Central Texas food pantries are in need of support this summer as they anticipate a growing need from the community.

25 News needs your help to make sure that they have the resources to make it through the summer.

From now until July 30, 25 News will be running its Feed the Need Summer Drive to collect donations for seven food pantries around Central Texas.

Participating pantries include: Shepherd’s Heart, The Salvation Army, Caritas, Operation Feeding Temple, Killeen Food Care Center, Helping Hands Ministry in Belton, and the Brazos Valley Food Bank.

Food pantry directors point to students not receiving school lunches in the summer and an increased cost of living for the expected rising demand. They also say summers, however, are typically the slowest part of the year for donations.

"This is really a critical time for us because what happens is, and we all see this every year, we go through a donation drought," said Robert Gager, executive director of Shepherd's Heart in Waco.

Gager also emphasized the importance of food pantries for children.

"If we don't feed them while they're young, their cognitive skills, their immune systems don't develop properly," Gager said.

One of the volunteers working at Shepherd's Heart on Monday morning, Laurie Mitchell, said it's rewarding to be able to help out so many of her fellow community members.

"God's blessed me in a lot of the areas of my life and so I want to give back to the community and help bless others," Mitchell said.

Tasha Roberts, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry of Belton also expects an increase in demand from the community and a decrease in donations for the next few months.

"One of the amazing things about supporting your local food pantry is that you're really supporting your neighbors in the community," Roberts said. "You don't know who may need the help at certain times of the year."

Even if just for a short period of time, the pantries help those in need get back on their feet. Some of them even give back to the pantries that helped them once they no longer need assistance.

"Not too long ago, we received a note in the mail along with a donation and the note just simply said, 'Thank you for being there for me back when I needed a helping hand," Roberts said.

To learn how you can donate to 25 News' Feed the Need program, head to 25cares.com.