The Somervell County Food Bank — now known as PaPa’s Pantry — remains a constant source of food for families in need.
Its normal hours open to the public is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. each Tuesday. This is one of the busiest stretches of the year for the food bank, and Administrative Manager Bill French emphasized that it will only be open one more day through the rest of this year — on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Because of the Christmas holiday and New Year’s Day, it will be closed on Dec. 24 and 31 before resuming its regular schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
French took over as the director of PaPa’s Pantry on Jan. 1 of this year when Debi Bly retired after about a decade of service. The position was changed to administrative manager by the board of directors.
French noted that an average of about 155 families per month are served by the food bank, but that tends to escalate during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. The number of families served increased to 185 in November.
“The number of families we serve in the holiday season naturally increases,” said French, who is the pastor of Vine Life Tabernacle Church, on Highway 144 south of Glen Rose. “We’re anticipating more people this Tuesday. We’re endeavoring to be as well stocked as we can be, for their needs.
“They have such a wonderful selection of quality foods (to choose from), and we will make sure they receive it in a generous quantity. This goes a very long way toward helping those families.”
French said that he sees positive feedback from those in need — some of whom are in tears because they feel so grateful.
“This is such a blessing,” French said. “We are able to maintain well-balanced meals for their family, with a very wide range of foods.”
The offers canned foods as well as frozen and refrigerated foods, and even snack bags for kids. Sandwich meats, milk, salads, eggs, butter and quick meals are on hand. Baby diapers are also available, and sometimes personal hygiene products such as toothpaste and deodorant.
“We don’t always have the same things available every week,” French noted.
The food bank gave out “close to 200” turkeys leading up to Thanksgiving, French said, and there are still more available “while supplies last.”
The food bank uses a chart to determine the amount of food available to each family, depending on the size. French recalled that one family of 10 was helped.
Those who come in will be asked to fill out an application to determine if they qualify.
French said that there are about 20 people who volunteer to help at PaPa’s Pantry on a regular basis, plus others who come in to assist when they can.
“It takes a lot of volunteers,” said French, who has been married to his wife, Jackie, for more than 45 years.
A shipment of items from the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth arrives once a week.
“It can be from 1,500 pounds, up to 6,000 pounds, depending on what we need,” French said.
They also receive donations from churches and individuals, and other volunteers from organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, as well as homeschooled students.
Recently, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center helped out by staging a day of free admission with donations of canned foods.
“We came (back) with about 40 boxes of food,” French said of that day.
PaPa’s Pantry has its own trailer, which connects with its supply from the Tarrant Food Bank at the Granbury Church of Christ. French said that there is a need for volunteer drivers who own a heavy-duty pickup truck (three-quarter ton and up) to haul the PaPa’s Pantry trailer to and from Granbury once a week.
For more information, call 682-936-5663.
The office for Helping Hands of Somervell County is also housed inside the food bank building, which is located at 753 Gibbs Boulevard in Glen Rose, across the street from the Sheriff’s Office. Helping Hands, which offers assistance with utilities payments for those in need, is also open the same hours as PaPa’s Pantry.