TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The East Texas Food Bank plans to use a $9 million donation to expand its capacity and work with partner agencies to help end hunger in the region.

Anthropologist MacKenzie Scott made the donation in December of 2020 as part of $4 billion she awarded to community service organizations.

“This (donation) will give us the opportunity to build the capacity that can solve hunger — that can give people access to the foods that they need when they need it,” said East Texas Food Bank Chief Executive Officer Dennis Cullinane.

Cullinane said that the donation will help the food bank meet its long-term goals of expanding a fresh produce program, expanding facilities and increasing mobile distributions.

“We have a plan together, now it is time to execute (it),” Cullinane said.

Last year during the pandemic, Melissa Stark was one of the many people who received help from the food bank. Now she is working there.

“I feel compelled to help other people,” Stark said. “And that’s what I feel I’m doing here. So I’d answer the phone, hear their stories, and my heart went out to every single one of them. I wanted to be able to deliver food to each and every one of them I talked to.”

East Texas still has “plenty of people in the community who need our assistance, so every dollar helps out,” Stark said, adding, “It is so exciting that we are going to be able to help more people.”