Texas food banks and farmers deal post-freeze crop delays

Food banks still in high demand and families are continue struggling with food shortage.
Food banks still in high demand and families are continue struggling with food shortage.(KLTV)
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 5:29 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Texas ranks first in the nation in number of children who are food insecure. To help combat hunger in the state, Texas food banks actively invite their communities to take advantage of their massive food distributions. Their mobile pantry program is just over six months old and is expandingETFB’ to the Tyler area.

Dennis Cullinane is the CEO for the East Texas Food Bank said, “these are more neighborhood oriented. We’re really trying to get into really specific census tracts where we know there’s a lot of problems where people are living below that federal poverty line.”

He explained it’s these people who typically don’t have transportation to go to drive-thru distributions. This Tyler addition will add to the ETFB’s mobile pantry program’s nine sites, but Cullinane says while they’re able to maintain the high demand, the winter storms from February brought on another challenge.

“The supply has been good but the cost has gone up on those supplies because we can no longer really rely on the valley the way we did before,” said Cullinane.

Like others, the East Texas Food Bank relies on farms in south Texas for a majority of their food resources. Alto farmer, Jay Jones, tells us while the freeze took out most southern crops, many East Texas farmers are in good shape.

“It came at the right time for us,” said Jones. “We were just beginning to get started. If we happen to have a late freeze, now, it could be very bad for us.”

They’re in the planting process now and Jones expects to see some progress in growth in about a week.

Both Cullinane and Jones explain the south provides most of the resources for banks because they can harvest more produce. Since that’s been delayed, the ETFB has had to begin paying for their groceries from places as far out as California and Mexico. Jones told us, right now in East Texas, they’re just hoping for normal spring weather from here on out, sunshine and spring showers.

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