Thousands in Brazos County rely on food pantries in need of donations

KBTX News 3 at Ten EXTENDED(Recurring)
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 6:14 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -The Brazos Valley Food Bank helps make sure food pantries can provide for the community. Just in Brazos County, more than 30,000 people were served last year.

There are eight food pantries in the county that team up with the Brazos Valley Food Bank: Brazos Church Pantry, Salvation Army, The Bridge Ministries, Lee Chapel United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of College Station, Lincoln House of Hope, New Zion Food Pantry, and Brazos Mobile Pantry. There is also a home delivery service in Bryan and College Station for those who qualify for Project GotEM (Going the Extra Mile).

Thousands of people come to the food pantry at Lee Chapel United Methodist Church for food, cleaning supplies, and other basic necessities.

“Through September, we fed 1,249 households and 3,445 individuals,” Carla Parnell, Lee Chapel Food Pantry Coordinator, said.

Parnell says those numbers keep growing with the impacts of the pandemic, rising food and gas prices, and inflation.

“People who had never, ever been to a pantry before had to start coming,” Parnell said.

She says they will continue to provide for anyone who walks through their doors, but their shelves are bare. They rely on donations and volunteers to continue the work they do.

“Without the Brazos Valley Food Bank, there is no way that we could do this because we could not go to the store and purchase this food,” Parnell said. “Every month, I tell them to send me 1,000 pounds of meat. First, we started out with 400 pounds, and then it started going up.”

“Without the help from the community, we would not survive, we would not be able to give back to the community,” Aishia Bowers, a volunteer at Lee Chapel, said. “We have coat drives, we give back to hundreds of people at this point.”

It’s a story shared by pantries across Brazos County.

“During the pandemic, government assistance made our service less necessary, however, we see that as government assistance decreases, the need for local support is more important than ever,” Kyle Spencer, Director of Lincoln House of Hope, said. “Being one of the few food pantries located in College Station, we have seen the inflation of home prices change the makeup of the community. The increases in prices of fuel and goods make us pay closer attention to our budget.”

Volunteers work around the clock to help people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities and even deliver to those who are unable to come by.

That’s why every dollar donated can make a difference.

“We work in the rain, we work in the snow, we work as hard as we can, but it brings a smile to our faces because we know we are doing something good,” Laura Luther, a volunteer, said.

Lee Chapel also provides Spanish translators. The church has an ongoing coat drive accepting donations through Dec. 10.