Food bank has come a long way

Staff Writer
Glen Rose Reporter

The Somervell County Food Bank, PaPa's Pantry, has come a long way since its inception in the late 1970s. The idea of a food bank was started when Boo Summers saw a need in the community. She began by distributing food to those in need from her home.

Originally, she shared what she had, but as word spread, friends began to donate as well. Mrs. Summers continued to dispense food for about 10 years. In the mid-1990s, Louise Berry, who is now deceased, began to distribute food from the old parsonage of the First United Methodist Church. The church still allows the food bank to utilize the building rent free.

During those early years or parsonage, Berry ran the organization out-of-pocket with the help of local food drives. Gradually the food bank started to pick up a few volunteers and eventually gained support from the United Fund, operating as an adjunct organization with a separate board and budget. The food bank also started utilizing the services of Tarrant Area Food Bank, purchasing food at a greatly discounted price. In 2009 the food bank completed requirements to become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

As needs of the community increase, so does the need for better record keeping, increased outreach and food distribution efficiency by the food bank. At this time, client information is secured and updated easily with the use of a computerized program. Lee Sundby graciously updated all the financial, tax and corporate paperwork to keep the food bank in good standing with governmental entities.

Initially, 50 to 60 families were served from the parsonage. Today, 130 to 160 families are served on a monthly basis. Each family receives a box of dry goods, which includes rice, beans, cereal, etc., a box of canned goods and various selections of meat, dairy, bread and fresh produce.

The food bank also coordinates with the Senior Center to deliver food to those seniors aged 60-plus who have registered at the Senior Center. 

Once the spacious, new facility is opened at the new location across from the Sheriff's Office, clients will be able to select the food they will use similar to what they do at a grocery store. Initially, clients will be given four or five reusable grocery bags to use as they shop. They will be responsible for bringing them each month as the food bank will no longer store bags and boxes at the facility.

The food bank remains an all-volunteer organization with a working Board of Directors. Past directors include Janis Stout and Paul Harper. The current food bank board is comprised of Max Bly, director; Binnie Summers, assistant director; Aly Kelly, treasurer; Annette Billingsley, volunteer coordinator; Caryoln Southward, communications; Millard Summers, maintenance; and Debi Bly, secretary. The organization has about 20 regular volunteers, including the Life Skills 18+ class from Glen Rose High School.

It has only been through the cooperation and generosity of the Glen Rose community that this new, debt-free facility has gone from a dream to a reality.

If you are a Somervell County residents in need of food assistance, bring a picture ID and a current utility bill showing your physical address to the food bank location on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If you would like to volunteer, contact Annette Billingsley at 817-776-2521 or email to aabillingsley@yahoo.com.