The declining economy and a rise in unemployment has taken its toll on all Americans, but the state of things has affected one subgroup the worst - the family.
With parents out of work and prices for clothing and food rising, many families across the nation have turned to non-profit organizations that can provide those necessities at little or no cost. The Somervell County Food Bank, located at 309 N.E. Vernon Street in Glen Rose, has been no exception to the rule.
“We serve anywhere from 20 to 60 families a week,” manager Paul Harper said. “It’s a good thing we have food to give out, it’s a bad thing people are in that situation.”
The turnout usually depends heavily on the weather, he said. Clear days will result in more clients than rainy days, but despite the record rainfall in October, the food bank served 196 families.
“We allow people to come in once a month,” Harper said.
Since implementing a new registration system earlier this year, the food bank has seen a massive increase in its clientele.
“A bunch of new people are coming. Last year it was 80 to 85 people a month, this year it is almost 200 families,” Harper said.
Families or individuals will register with the food bank once a year and then sign a signature card each month.
There are a few requirements clients must meet to qualify for the food bank’s services. First, they must be a resident of Somervell County, which is most often verified through a utility bill. Second, customers must meet Texas Department of Agriculture guidelines, which lists eligibility for individuals and families based on their pay.
“We haven’t had to turn anyone away yet,” Harper said.
The food bank, which is one of 13 members of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, receives supplies through monetary and food donations as well as a weekly trip to Fort Worth.
A trailer, donated for use by the First United Methodist Church, is driven to the Tarrant Area Food Bank each Friday and loaded four pallets deep with supplies. Along with basic necessities such as milk, peanut butter and bread, the Somervell County Food Bank purchases soup, blueberries, cereal, meat, potatoes and garnishes for a discounted price.
The food bank transports anywhere from 2,000 to 7,000 pounds of food each week. And its weekly donations are almost half that, amounting to an average of 3,000 pounds each week.
“We’ve got lots of food to give out,” Harper said. “We are in much better shape than probably most (food banks).”
A new freezer and a new refrigerator, both measuring 74 cubic feet, were purchased earlier this year, allowing more frozen and perishable items to be purchased and given to families.
Each family receives one box of dry goods, which consists of cereal, oatmeal, crackers and trail mix, and one box of canned goods and items from the freezer and refrigerator.
The food bank also has a shelf supply in its front room with baby food.
The Somervell County Food Bank still needs donations, mainly for its canned goods’ room, which should have 20 to 30 shelves of food at any time.
“Our canned room is really low,” Harper said.
Desired canned goods include soup and green beans.
Individuals or organizations can make monetary or food donations to the food bank, which is open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 3-6 p.m.
Donations most often come from churches, like St. Rosa of Lima which donated $400 from a baked goods sale, or organizations, like Bikers for Grub which recently donated $500 it received in a local tournament.
No donation is too small. And the food bank is looking for any size donation to supply families for the upcoming holidays.
“Somebody usually comes through for Thanksgiving and brings us turkeys,” Harper said.
In addition to turkeys, some local businesses will donate profits from Thanksgiving dinners, such as Hammonds Barbecue, which hosts a Thanksgiving dinner and gives all donations to the food bank.
For more information, call Harper at (254) 898-0354.