Food, Programs Drying Up at Monahans Pantry

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MONAHANS - For Ward County Greater Works, Inc. in Monahans, these constant blasts of heat and no rain in West Texas are taking away some of the food that they can offer.

Fresh produce is dry, water bottles taste like plastic and aren't drinkable and they're without air conditioning.

"Where we usually have five pounds of nice, big, juicy onions, we have two little old ones that we're able to give our clients," Greater Works Executive Director, Paula Nichols, said. "That's not the norm. I don't see any potatoes here, but they're small. Usually when we can give three to five pounds of potatoes per client, we are giving three little round ones that weigh less than one pound."

The heat and no rain has cost Greater Works their usual supply of produce from a field south of Pecos and the West Texas Food Bank is running out of what they can give them.

Where they usually receive more than 3,000 items donated in May, they were only given 1,800 this year.

Greater Works serves the food to 700 low-income, elderly and disabled people in Monahans, as well as hundreds more throughout Ward County.

Now they're questioning the future of the food they can give.

"I just wonder 'What does our future hold here?'" Nichols said. "Because this is what we're looking at: No produce, no milk, no yogurt, nothing frozen, but we're looking at dry goods, cereal and beans."

Not only are the Ward County Greater Works' food pantries suffering, but they've also been forced to close their Monahans Kidz Zone due to lack of funding, which means for the first Summer since its opening, underprivileged kids won't have that safe haven to come home to.

Greater Works opened the Zone back in 2007, where kids could play, eat and be in a good environment. It was a place for them to go while many of their parents worked.

"You see the disappointment on the parent's face," Monahans Kidz Zone Volunteer, Lisa Bristow, said. "Sometimes you see the panic on their face because it's like 'Well, I still have to work. Where am I going to place my child?'"

But the Zone also costs $10,000 a month to keep open, while Greater Works' budget is less then $3,000 a month and the Zone was forced to close just after this past school year.

Right now, they're trying to raise $6,000 to keep it open a couple more months.

"Well, if we get enough funding, then we'll be able to re-open and start our programs back up," Bristow said. "We've gotten a number of our local business community involved, and they've pledged, but we haven't met our budget yet."

They'll continue to rely on support from the community and hope the heat will simmer and the rain comes another day.