Posted on September 24, 2021
September is National Hunger Action Month and the West Texas Food Bank is eager to get back to action with its campaign.
The West Texas Food Bank and Feeding America are asking the public to take action to end hunger one helping at a time.
“It’s an awareness campaign that hunger is year-round,” West Texas Food Bank Director of Communications Craig Stoker said. “It kicks off our fall season heading into fundraising season where we want to make sure everyone knows that hunger is a year-round issue. Not just at Christmas and Thanksgiving. People in our area are always facing hunger every single day. It gives us an opportunity to put a spotlight on the food bank and tell the story of what we do and how we do it.”
Stoker says it’s an exciting time for them to be back to do some thoughtful activities during September after not being able to last year.
“Last year was completely canceled,” Stoker said. “There was no way to participate and at that point, we were still in the thick of things and holding on to our hats and hoping we could make it through. … It just wasn’t the time for the promotions and anything like that last year. We’re happy to be able to loosen our belts a little bit and have a little more fun and that’s really what it’s all about.”
The month of September will also be momentous for the West Texas Food Bank as the nonprofit organization will cut the ribbon on its new Innovative Gardens.
The West Texas Food Bank just completed a 20-acre expansion to its Midland facility.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Sept. 25 at 1601 Westcliff Drive in Midland.
“Education is a big part of what we do out here at the food bank and what we want to do at the food bank,” Stoker said. “We want to education to break that cycle of poverty. To be able to teach people how to grow their own food is a really exciting thing. The innovative gardens are going to allow us to involve the kids more and show them where we have some banana trees planted so they can learn where bananas come from.”
“That’s really the goal; to show them where food comes from. So many might think that it’s on a shelf in H-E-B (and) they may not realize that it takes a farmer and land soil to do these things. It’s an opportunity for us to do things with school children and take them out and see gardens that they may not have access to or may not have seen. This is a way to introduce that to the community and to really open these opportunities for kids to learn where their food comes from.”
Stoker also said that this time of the year is a pretty expensive one as some low-income families have to make sacrifices out of their food budget to pay for school supplies and clothes for their kids.
The West Texas Food Bank is currently seeing an uptick with lines getting longer.
“Back to school always brings people to our doors because it’s expensive to get your kids clothes, uniforms and school supplies and all the things that you have to have to get your kiddo back to school,” Stoker said. “The cost of living in Odessa is insane and if you’ve got to do all these things that are mandatory to get your kids back to school, then it eats into your budget.”
It’s also worth mentioning that the surge in positive COVID cases across the country shows that the pandemic is far from over.
While it’s unclear if some places in the area will lockdown like last year, Stoker says the West Texas Food Bank wants to be prepared for the worst case scenario.
“We’re seeing what happens with lockdowns,” Stoker said. “None of us think that will happen again but it might. So we’re making sure that we’re prepared to serve those who work in restaurants and retail who were locked out of their jobs (last year) and we’re ready to help them if they need help again and keep an eye on things.”
Stoker says the food bank has set up numerous ways for people to get involved.
“We’re bringing back volunteer events,” Stoker said. “We had the Food 2 Kids sacking event the other day and we’ll continue that throughout the month. It’s easy ways for people to get involved and raise awareness about hunger and the West Texas Food Bank and that’s really the goal of Hunger Action Month. It gets people to take action against hunger.”
Recently, the West Texas Food Bank began its first-ever fall peanut butter drive fundraiser.
Donation bins are available at all local United Supermarkets and Market Street locations.
United Supermarkets and Market Street will match up to 1,000 jars of peanut butter.
Stoker says the West Texas Food Bank is asking people who want to volunteer to register on their website at wtxfoodbank.org.
“If people want to come to volunteer, they need to register on our website before they come out,” Stoker said. “There’s a button at the top that they can see all the different activities and time slots. They can register. It’s a simple process. We just ask that they register before they come. There are ways that they can donate to the website.”