DUMAS, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The High Plains Food Bank provides food for a program in Dumas that feeds roughly 600 people a week.

However, it has only been a food pantry for a couple of years.

The Dumas Education and Social Ministries started as an English as a Second Language program and when volunteers noticed their students were hungry, they found a way to help.

Lisa Hatley is the Executive Director of DESM, who has volunteered with the program for many years. She said they were already providing food for their students, but when COVID-19 made it’s way into their small town, the classes stopped, but the need for food grew.

“When covid hit, it grew, and we still have our ESL classes, and they’re, they’re starting back up this fall, we’ll start them back up in September. We’re really excited to get that going,” Hatley said.

For volunteer Teresa Castro, working with the DESM pantry is a calling she says she tried to ignore.

“I’ve always heard about it, and I had been asked to help several times and I said no. And the third time, I think it was God’s choice. I thought, okay, this is what he wants me to do. And I answered the call. And I got my husband to help too. And I’ve had family members helping, too. I believe it was my calling,” Castro said.

Now after feeding more than 140 families–or, about 600 people per week, and thousands of people every year, the DESM is looking to expand.

They hope to keep their partnership with the High Plains Food Bank and continue to provide food each week.

“The smiles on the kids’ face if they come up and realize we get cereal this week, you know,” Hatley said “Some things that some of us just take for granted, people really, really appreciate. “

Make an online donation to the High Plains Food Bank.