MESA Outreach, a local community outreach center, provides food to those in need and school supplies for students whose families cannot afford the materials. The organization initially launched in response to a previous organization, Bear Creek Assistance Ministries, dissolving.

“[Bear Creek Assistance Ministries] folded for various reasons and left this area without an assistance ministry, ... so several churches got together to create Houston Northwest Community Center,” said Janet Balboni, MESA Outreach president and chair of the board of directors. To fill this void, leaders banded together to establish the Houston Northwest Community Center nonprofit in 2009. The organization provided assistance to those in need through classes and support programs until opening the food pantry in 2012.

The group continued to operate under the banner of Houston Northwest Community Center until 2016, when it found the name did not quite fit anymore, Program and Administrative Assistant Lisa Modglin said. The board of directors decided to rebrand the group as MESA Outreach. The Spanish word “mesa” translates to “table” in English.

“They liked the idea of a table and community, that everyone was welcome at the table, and everybody could come together to volunteer to share whatever you had,” Modglin said.

Carrying on

With the idea of the table in mind, the group continued to grow its food pantry and service through partnerships with the Houston Food Bank, local grocery stores, churches and other outreach groups. Modglin and Balboni said these groups coordinate with one another to create a care network, allowing different ministries to provide the aid they can and refer clients to other ministries for services that are beyond their capabilities.

“The nonprofit community in Houston is a very tight-knit community because you’re so limited in your resources,” Modglin said. “We help each other out a lot. It was that way when I was at the Mission of Yahweh; I was there for eight years. So you get to know who does what to find help for people.”

The MESA Outreach food pantry operates on the second and fourth Tuesdays as well as the third Saturday of every month. Patrons can drive up to receive prepackaged boxes of food.

Programs at MESA Outreach

The Stuff the Bus program aims to provide elementary school students with the materials they need to get through the year. Backpacks and school supplies are delivered to schools in Katy and Cy-Fair ISDs, according to the nonprofit’s website.

During the holiday season, the organization provides families with bags of sugar, flour, or cake or brownie mixes as well as holiday food items and an H-E-B gift card through an event called Share the Table, officials said. It also supports the Share Your Holidays event by distributing boxes of meat, milk and produce so families can enjoy home-cooked meals during the holidays.

MESA Outreach relies on support from the community to meet local needs. The food pantry receives deliveries during weekdays, and Balboni said able-bodied volunteers help move heavy boxes quickly to avoid risk food spoiling in the heat.

The nonprofit can also benefit from financial support with which it could hire part-time staff to assist with loading and unloading boxes and potentially expand its operating hours.

“Now we need to expand on that number of people that are available at a whim and basically because somebody could just [say,] ‘Oh, the door’s open—let’s drop off donations.’ It’s a great thing, and it works well when we’re here, but we’re not here to accept donations whenever anybody feels like showing up to drop off donations, so that’s a challenge,” Modglin said.

MESA Outreach Food Pantry

16000 Rippling Water Drive, Houston


Hours: Second and fourth Tuesdays 4:30-7 p.m., third Saturdays 8:30-11 a.m.

How to help


MESA Outreach is open to volunteers helping with unloading trucks of food into its facilities during weekdays.

Donate items

Donations of nonperishable food items are always appreciated and help keep the shelves stocked.

Monetary aid

The nonprofit is seeking to expand programs and ensure it can serve the community for years to come. Monetary donations can be made online or by mailing checks to P.O. Box 841075, Houston.