‘It takes a village’: East Texas Food Bank says volunteers are vital to help end hunger in communities

Hunger Action Month

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – September is Hunger Action Month and KETK is teaming up with Feeding America as we work to end hunger across East Texas.

The East Texas Food Bank is a local nonprofit with the same hope.

Donna Spann, the organization’s chief advancement officer, said volunteers are the heart and soul of the facility.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers. I mean they’re vital,” said Spann.

With their assistance, the food bank is able to help thousands of people across 26 counties and 20,000 square miles.

“I was telling someone yesterday. They had a little juice box in their hand, and I said ‘you have to realize, stop and look at what you have in your hand, that’s going to be in the hand of a hungry child,’” added Spann.

Almost 50,000 volunteers walk through the East Texas Food Bank every year with the same goal in mind: to end hunger.

Sunni Hawkins-Moore recently started volunteering her time to help the facility. She has also volunteered at other nonprofits in the past.

“It has been very challenging but also very rewarding at the same time. Because when people need it the most is when they’re the most grateful,” she said.

Due to the pandemic, less volunteers are allowed to help per shift and masks are required.

People can still help out in other ways if they wish. There is a virtual food drive.

“It is an online program that you can sign up for. You can go on and say I want to have a food drive, and instead of donating food, you’re donating money that will purchase food,” said Spann.

Any funds can help the community.

“We’re able to purchase products for pennies on the dollar. Where as it’s a lot more expensive for someone to go out and purchase these cans and donate them to the food bank,” said Spann.

“You know it takes a village. It takes a team, and there’s a lot of hunger,” added Hawkins-Moore.

The East Texas Food Bank rooms can be filled with up to 200 volunteers packing boxes of food, but due to the Delta variant the number of people assisting has been limited.

Because of the new COVID-19 regulations, the food bank has piles of boxes of food waiting to be sorted. This is one of the reasons they turned to virtual food banks.

“We don’t have enough volunteers… the volunteers want to come…the problem is the limit of volunteers, but we are limiting them for safety reasons,” said Spann.

To volunteer with East Texas Food Bank, you can sign up here.

KETK is holding a virtual food drive with the East Texas Food Bank. To donate, go to this link.

For more information on Hunger Action Month, visit this website.

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