Food Bank first timers

By Morgan Chesky - bio - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Every week we hear of more and more layoffs, record unemployment, the highest in 16 years. In East Texas, families with sole providers are learning that the difference between middle class and lower class could be just one paycheck.

One East Texas family is used to helping others, but now they're having to look to others for help, and it turns out they are not alone in this transition.

They say home is where the heart is, but for M'Linda Pierson, home was Mabank, in a house nearly paid for, not the apartment her family had to move into. When the East Texas Goodyear plant shut down Walter Pierson lost the paycheck feeding his family.

"It's hard to get used to one way of living and then all of a sudden, just like that, you're having to adjust," said M'Linda.

Cupboards once stocked with food were bare. M'Linda needed help but didn't want it.

"I tried to talk myself out of it and I almost did because I felt like there's gotta be a different approach, another way," said M'Linda.

Thinking of her family, she went to a food bank where she received enough food for a couple meals. It turns out that they are not the only East Texas family making this adjustment.

"There's no longer the guy standing on the edge of the streetcorner beggin for food," said Robert Bush, Executive Director of the East Texas Food Bank.

He said the recession is changing the face of hunger.

"Today, because of the tightening economy, more and more of those individuals that were near poor just above the poverty line are slipping into poverty," said Bush.

From January to October of 2008, the center saw a 22 percent increase in people served which translates to 20 thousand more mouths in need of food. Despite the hard times Pierson remains positive.

"What we do have we are blessed and thats the main thing that I'm getting out of it that we're blessed with what we have," said M'Linda.

The Pierson family is looking forward to the spring. Walter will finish classes at Tyler Junior College in May for air conditioning and heating.