by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--Their mission is to provide local, non-profit agencies with food, to give to those in need. The struggling economy isn't the only thing making it difficult for them to accomplish that this year.
The West Texas Food Bank has been helping the hungry for almost 25 years. Executive Director Hyta Folsom says they're not going to let anything keep them from fulfilling their mission, during the holidays, or any day.
Do I feed my family on Christmas day or do I pay the rent? Those are questions that many people never expected to have to ask themselves. That's where the West Texas Food Bank comes in. Their warehouse is stocked with just enough food for all their partner agencies. But, if the requests for help keep coming in like they have been, all that could change.
"The amount of food we're distributing right now has increased tremendously. It's hard to keep enough food here, because our agencies are ordering so much more," Folsom explained.
All the agencies have seen a double or triple in their request numbers in just the last six months. One was so overwhelmed, they had to shut their doors completely. According to Folsom, there are 281,000 people in poverty, in their 22 county service area, "It just goes on and on and on. The number of people in our backyard, in our towns, right here, that are needing help."
While the food is available getting it to those that need it most is another story. The lack of volunteers is taking it's toll on an already short staffed Food Bank.
"Our problem is having enough help here, so we can get that food out to our agencies so they can make those distributions. There are days when our staff, that would normally be working in the warehouse, go out on the trucks and make our deliveries and our pick-ups," Folsom said.
The Food Bank will gladly take any help they can get, but most especially, able, willing bodies.
"People are hungry 12 months out of the year. They can come in anytime during the year and it's appreciated and it's needed," Folsom added.