Food insecurity persists as High Plains Food Bank assists 10,000 households each month

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — While coronavirus conditions are improving, food insecurity remains high across the Texas Panhandle. The High Plains Food Bank is still feeding hundreds more households each month than it did a year ago.

“What we’ve really seen through throughout this process is, is what we feared would happen and that’s a longer-term response, an ongoing need like we’ve really haven’t seen ever in our history,” said HPFB Executive Director Zack Wilson. “But it just really ballooned so fast, almost a year ago now and, you know, the need has remained really high.”

Wilson said furloughs and job losses contributed to the increase, and while many of those jobs have come back, several people had to take on multiple jobs to make ends meet. Plus, the food need for homebound senior citizens increased.

“That averages out to over 10,000 households a month now that we are helping assist all across the Panhandle,” Wilson said. “Previously, it was about 8,500, just a year ago. So, that number has not decreased, you know, since the beginning and we fear that this is, you know, kind of our new benchmark.”

However, Wilson said the HPFB is looking at that increase as a way to increase its distribution, especially as the need for food was already there for many people before the pandemic. He said, in many cases, those people were not asking for help.

He continued, “We had supply chain issues back in April, where we couldn’t access what we normally accessed, and then everyone around the country was trying to do the same thing. So it wasn’t really until May and June, that we really started seeing that spike.”

In July of 2020, Wilson said the HPFB distributed one million pounds of food among 1,100 households. He said another million pounds went out in November as well.

Through the pandemic, Wilson said the people of the High Plains have stepped up with donations, both financial and food.

“The financial donations is what spurred that. That’s what allowed us to distribute a million pounds of food,” Wilson added. “That’s what we can do every single month here. Because of what has happened, because of the need out there, provided, you know, those resources are available, and we love being able to meet that need.”

But Wilson said financial donations are still needed.

“This is a marathon. This is a long-term race and we’re trying to pace ourselves here. And look at the long-term effects of all this,” Wilson said. “And we know there’s a good chance, especially in our rural areas, that there’ll be some struggle for a very long time. There was struggle even prior to this, and we’ve been working really hard in our rural areas to help identify partners to, you know, identify the need in their area and help step up. So that’s what keeps us going.”

Wilson said $1 equals six meals and the HPFB has been able to stretch those dollars further to help during this pandemic.

Another impactful service the HPFB provides that has been invaluable through this pandemic is its senior food box program.

As the need for food remains and Wilson expects it to rise in some instances, another big need for the food bank is volunteers.

“Volunteers are welcome, you know, anytime during the weekday for us here, if you’re able to do that we have Monday through Thursday evenings, six to eight, usually set aside for groups to come in,” Wilson said. “And then also Saturday mornings, if we have groups that are interested. So you know, grab your church, your business, your office, your social group, your Zoom social group, whatever, and bring them here and, you know, help us continue to make that impact.”


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