ODESSA, Texas — Grace and grit – two traits at the heart of every West Texan.
“Our community rallies. They do it in such a way that just blows me away every single time and that has been no different this last year,” Craig Stoker, the marketing director of the West Texas Food Bank said.
The community has certainly rallied around the food bank in the last year. It is evident by just one glance through its warehouse.
“We’re running out of space,” Stoker said. “We’ve got a warehouse designed to turn 10-million pounds of food a year. We’re over that. We’re anticipating hitting at least 11-million pounds of food this year.”
The food bank has all 19 counties in its service area covered and it all starts inside the warehouse. Every single space has a purpose. Every shelf is packed, there is a 10-thousand square foot refrigerator and freezer filled with food and there is almost always a team of people working to check and pack food – it is a fine-tuned operation. And for good reason.
“Something that came in our warehouse might stay for a week. As we say, you turn it and burn it,” Stoker said. “Orders are coming in all the time. One of the lessons we learned at the very beginning of COVID is to not let off the gas on ordering food.”
The demand has more than doubled over the past year and it’s not going down.
“When I look at what the food bank and the team has been able to do over the last year, it’s incredible. It’s only possible because of the support of the community,” Stoker said.
In a year that upended everything, the food bank never wavered and never slowed down at a time when the need has never been greater. And because of that, their mission has never been more clear.
“We care for each other. We know that without our neighbors, this isn’t going to work,” Stoker said.
A true community effort. An example of giving grace and standing strong during crisis. In West Texas, we call that grit.