With 16 percent of Montgomery County residents living without enough to eat, the Montgomery County Food Bank offers a service to help feed those in need.
The agency collects and distributes food to more than 32,000 children, adults and seniors per month via partnerships with more than 50 community organizations throughout the county, said Monica Whitt, director of development and volunteer services.
“Sometime people assume that we are just serving the homeless, but that is not the case,” Whitt said. “It is families where mom is a single mom and she has two jobs, or both parents are working and they just lost a job, or someone has just had major medical problems and is figuring out how to take care of their family. Those are the types of individuals that we are also servicing.”
Founded in 1985 by food bank board member Betty Hardy as a small operation in her garage and the trunk of her car, the organization will deliver a projected 11.5 million pounds of food this year, said Sophia James, vice president of development and communications. In 2014 the organization started operation of its new facility after relocating from a previous location in Conroe.
“The old facility could only hold 200,000 pounds of food at any one time,” James said. “We were able to push 7.5 million pounds of food out of that facility [in 2014]. Here we can push out 40 million pounds of food. Our entire old warehouse, refrigeration area, yard space and office space fits into our refrigeration area here. It is a huge difference.”
About 75,700 of county residents are considered to be food insecure—meaning they maintain a less-than-adequate diet or at times are unable to eat because they can not afford food, James said.
Montgomery County Food Bank volunteers help the agency sort food for distribution.[/caption]
Twenty-four percent of county children experience food insecurity, James said. Because of the way government programs such as the Women, Infant and Children program are structured, about 13,000 of those children are unaccounted for, she said.
“There is essentially 32,000 children in Montgomery County that are struggling with the fact that they are going to bed hungry every night,” James said. “There are 13,000 children that are falling through that [government program gaps] because their families are making just a little too much or not enough to receive benefits. Those are the ones that we are trying to help serve in the community.”
To that end the food bank relies on its volunteers as well as food and monetary donations to provide for the community. Although food donations and drives continue to be popular among donors, James said the food bank is able to leverage organizational partnerships and subsidies to maximize monetary donations
“Monetary donations are always the best use of funds because we can leverage the dollar so much better than the average person can do at the grocery store,” James said. “A can of green beans is 79 cents at the grocery store, but with what a person can spend on that can we can probably buy an entire case.”