Small church food pantry makes big impact in Caldwell

CALDWELL, Tex. (KBTX) - In Caldwell, there is a small church pantry that is making a big difference.

"We’ll have people lined up way back there to the high school on that road," said Mike Cook, who helps coordinate the Elizabeth Lutheran Community Food Pantry. "There will be 60, 70 cars at a time."

Cook is talking about the third Saturday of every month, when he and several other volunteers hand out 25,000 pounds of food.

For free.

In that line is Deborah Ezell, who manages a couple of low-income apartment complexes in the area. She says that one day she noticed too many empty refrigerators in her residents' homes.

"It never crossed my mind," said Ezell. "I said to myself, how many people have I missed?"

So, Ezell took action and quickly discovered the Elizabeth Lutheran pantry. Still, there was another obstacle.

"These people don't have rides," said Ezell, "so the next thing I know, I'm like, I have a van."

Now, on food pantry Saturdays, Ezell loads up her van with residents in need. Or, she just picks food up for those who can't come themselves.

"I took out my rear seat so I could take more food," said Ezell.

For pantry coordinators like Cook, it's stories like Ezell's that make the work worth it.

"You unload it, you bring it into this building, you take it back out, you get caught up in that," Cook said, "and then you see the smiles."

The pantry partners with the Brazos Valley Food Bank to provide the food at a much lower cost than if they operated alone--nearly 600 people served for about $2,000 a month.

Furthermore, last year was the first year Burleson County had a location for the KBTX Food for Families Food Drive. Part of what they raised went to the Elizabeth Lutheran Community Food Pantry, providing enough funds and food to completely sustain the pantry through March of this year.

Then again, the numbers only matter so much.

"You get so much back," said Cook. "You can’t count it."

The KBTX Food For Families food drive is Wednesday December 5.