Local Donations are Down at West Texas Food Bank

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- The high cost of food and a cautious public may be behind low donation numbers at the West Texas Food Bank, according to Warehouse Director Elizabeth Wallace.

"Everybody is cautious about how much they can give and what," Wallace said. "Local donations have been slow, still every bit helps."

Wallace says normally donations amount to four times what they've gotten so far this year. Wallace also points to recent disasters for the slow start to the holiday giving. She says some people may have already made donations after Hurricane Ike and flooding in Presido.

"They may have already given all they can give," she said.

Then she says the price of food is a factor, unlike gas prices, they're still higher than a year ago.

"100 dollars doesn't go as far as it used to," she said. "Canned goods were averaging 39-40 cents each. They're now, 62 cents a can."

The cost of rice climbed so high the food bank couldn't afford to buy it. After months of doing without, Wallace says the USDA commodities program is sending supplies. Wallace says the National contributors are making sure they don't run low this holiday.

"Whatever we do receive, will go to good use and as you can see behind me as fast as we can get it out there," she said.

The Odessa branch of the West Texas Food Bank partners with 80 organizations in 17 counties. Wallace says they would like to see local donations increase, but says they will make it through the season with the help from the USDA, Feeding America, and other local charities helping the Food Bank raise donations.

"People are bringing in food every single day and we hope when it's all said and done we will feed 350 to 400 families," Mary Hardin, Executive Director of Helping Hands of Midland, said.

At Helping Hands in Midland, it's a different story. Cash donations are already double last years. Hardin says the need is also greater.

"The need is huge this year," she said.

NewsWest Nine spoke to a representative from the Midland Salvation Army who says donations are on par with last year.

In Odessa, a Salvation Army spokesperson says donations are off to a slow start.

According to an Odessa Links spokesperson, donations are trickling in slowly this year perhaps in part to the news of the Flint Hills Closure.