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The Deer Park Community

Food pantry hitting critically low levels

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in Community

focus foodpantryIN OUR COMMUNITY
The once full shelves of the Interfaith Helping Hands Food Pantry are beginning to empty. According to volunteers, the biggest needs are canned vegetables (except corn), cereal, canned meats and fruits, rice, peanut butter, jelly and crackers.

foodpantry 2017After loosening its assitance requirements to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, the Deer Park Food Pantry is in dire need of several items. Pantry volunteers say the shelves are the barest they've ever seen. Photo by Bobby Vasquez.

In its push to help families who lost everything during Hurricane Harvey, the Deer Park Community Food Pantry is in need of items to restock its shelves.

Julie Matthews, who volunteers with the operation of the pantry, said the shelves are beginning to empty after opening its doors to anyone who needed its assistance.

“Usually, we only assist families who live within Deer Park ISD, but after the hurricane, a lot of people lost everything,” said Matthews. “We couldn’t just turn them away. We helped a lot of people and we were not as strict as to who we helped. There was a need and we had food, so it was distributed.”

The shelves have been slow to restock, putting the food bank in a tough bind to continue its ongoing service, she said.

The Food Pantry, also known as Interfaith Helping Hands relies on food and financial donations from citizens, area church members, schools, businesses and charity food drives. It is located at Deer Park United Methodist Church, 1300 Thirteenth St.

Matthews said the pantry has not had to turn anyone away but has lessened the amount given away for lack of food. If its supply is not replenished sufficiently, the food bank may began to lessen distribution even more.

“Usually we have green beans coming out of our ears, but right now, we don’t have much,” she said, pointing to two shelves.

Although the two shelves are stuffed with green beans, the pantry gives three cans of green beans to families needing help.

“It’s a lot now, but that will go away pretty quick,” she said. “When you have 20 families, that’s 60 cans. We also give everyone a box of cereal. We only have five boxes of cereal.”

"What we give out is based on what we have and how big the family is," she said. "We want to put the same amount of things in their baskets."

Matthews said the pantry is in need of all canned vegetables (except corn), cereal, canned meats and fruits, rice, peanut butter and jelly and crackers.

“This is honestly about the worst that it’s been. We usually start running low around the time the fire department delivers from its food drive. We need that when it happens,” she said. “But right now, this is really, really low.”

As the rise in needs grows, more food comes off the shelves at the pantry.

The food pantry is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations can be brought to the pantry during operating hours or dropped off in the DPUMC office. The church office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until noon on Friday.