Food Banks Suffer From "Perfect Storm"

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - It's being called the "Perfect Storm." Bone-dry weather here in the Basin and flood waters raging in the Midwest are putting one local food bank's supply in a bind.

"What we see is all of these dynamics occurring that are creating the 'Perfect Storm,'" West Texas Food Bank Executive Director, Augie Hernandes, said. "One of which is, we all know about the drought conditions in Texas and other states that produce a lot of food. Then we look at the flooding and abundance of rain in other areas that produce food. Tractors haven't been able to get into the fields yet for planting."

Adding insult to injury, food prices are rising nationwide and higher fuel costs make getting food in the bank and out in the community twice as expensive.

"There is no free food for a food bank," Hernandes said. "Canned food drives, we have to pick them up and spend money on transportation, the food that we can get from the Midwest and other areas. A load of food that used to cost us about $1,200 to bring in freight-wise just landed at about $3,800."

And the need is greater.

Where last year the food bank gave more than four million pounds of food, this year they're on track to give seven million.

All of those factors come together in the "Perfect Storm."

Having less food in the food bank not only hurts them, but the organizations they give that food to. The food bank gives an average of 500 pounds of food to 200 partners in the community.

They don't charge for delivery, leaving them with a shortfall of nearly $30,000 every month.

One of their partners is the Boys and Girls Club of Odessa.

"Right now we're serving about 230-240 kids a day and many of them won't get fed right if it wasn't for the food bank,"Boys and Girls Club of Odessa Executive Director, David Chancellor, said. "They provide most of the food, we supplement it, some breakfast, some snacks in the afternoon."

The need at the Boys and Girls Club is growing too with 150 children on the waiting list.

But with supplies of fresh fruit and produce dwindling, sometimes they've had to do without them.

"Buy more produce, those kinds of items that they're just not getting in the food bank," Chancellor said. "Last Summer we had fresh fruit. This year we just couldn't afford it. This year the funding wasn't there and so we had to cut back on it."

Officials with the Food Bank and the Club told NewsWest 9 what seems to be the only solution to the storm is to hope for planting weather here and elsewhere and hope that more West Texans will give what they can.

If you'd like to make a donation to the West Texas Food Bank, you can find more information on their website at: