First Resource Center

First Resource Center’s volunteers serve clients four days a week at the food bank at 801 N. Sycamore St. in Palestine. 

Above: Volunteer Kennedy Reed (front) and Director Blinda Craig (back, right) fulfill a client’s food order.

Owing to economic hardships imposed by COVID-19, service demands at local food banks have risen sharply. Since April 1, Palestine Community Food Pantry has served 32 percent more families; First Resource Center has served 21 percent more since mid-March. 

Despite layoffs that are still in effect, food bank directors are optimistic they can continue meeting clients’ needs because of increased donations.

Kroger, Walmart, and Brookshire’s have donated food and milk; Bimbo Bakeries supplied 700 loaves of bread; and a farm in Louisiana donated 800 two-pound bags of rice.

Cash donations also have stepped up. Meadows Homes LLC in Smith County sent a check for $1,000 last week—enough to cover the cost of feeding 100 more families.

Those donations are needed and appreciated.

Between March 17 and April 17, First Resource Center served more than 425 families, up 21 percent from 330 families. In a typical month, the center purchases and distributes $3,700 of food from the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler, but additional donations from grocery stores, food distributors, and people have increased the supply. 

Palestine Community Food Pantry served 260 families last week, a 32 percent increase, after adopting a drive-through service in April.

First Resource Center also initiated a non-contact drive-through service in March to protect volunteers and clients from COVID-19. Clients drive into the parking lot, call the center, and make requests by phone. A volunteer places the food inside each client’s vehicle. 

“We have been very successful with this program, and our staff has stayed healthy,” said Curt Sohn, chairman of First Resource Center.  

A few volunteers quit to avoid contracting COVID-19, but the same eight volunteers have provided services four days a week. FRC is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

The food bank needs about 20 volunteers, Sohn said, including a volunteer to drive a truck to pick up food donations from local grocery stores.

Palestine Community Food Pantry, owned and operated by Court Drive Church of Christ in Palestine, opens every Tuesday and Friday, from 1 to 3 p.m, and every other Thursday morning from 9-11 a.m. 

Staff members still make daily appointments to meet peoples’ needs, Pastor Paul Jones told the Herald-Press.

“Under emergency, we make adjustments to accommodate people,” Jones said. 

Distribution has become easier, Jones said, because East Texas Food Bank waived its paperwork requirements through the end of June. 

Both food banks need financial donations to meet increased demand. 

Donations to First Resource Center may be mailed to P.O. Box 4366, Palestine, Texas, 75802. For more information, call 903-731-9270. 

Send donations to Palestine Food Pantry to 1434 Court Dr., Palestine, Texas 75803. For more information, call 903-729-0196.

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