East Texas Food bank breaks ground on new resource center, fresh produce processing center

The East Texas Food Bank held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 11:11 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2022 at 11:30 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The East Texas Food Bank held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday on a new Tyler Resource Center and Fresh Produce Processing Center as part of the overall strategic plan aimed at expanding programs, distributing more food and serving more people.

“We are excited today to move forward with our plans to build a new food pantry in Tyler at our distribution center,” said Dennis Cullinane, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank.

“The 2,500 square foot Tyler Resource Center will be located in close proximity to low-income neighborhoods, in a census tract where 34% of the population lives below the poverty line. This is the first time in our history to operate a food pantry onsite at our facility to help close the hunger gap.”

The Tyler Resource Center will include a “Healthy Food Pantry” to provide nutritious food through a client-choice distribution model. The center will be open several days a week including some evenings and weekends to increase access to food assistance. The Benefits Assistance Program will help clients apply for SNAP and other social service benefits. “We currently estimate that ETFB will serve 500 Smith County households each week and provide 756,000 meals annually with our new Tyler Resource Center,” added Cullinane.

The construction of a 9,000 square foot Fresh Produce Processing Center will allow the ETFB to collect, store, repackage and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables more efficiently in the 26 county region served by the ETFB.

“Our goal is to sustain our fresh produce distribution at 14 million pounds or 50% of ETFB’s total food distribution by 2025,” said Cullinane. “We distribute boxes of produce each month at multiple locations in East Texas through our Mobile Pantries. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet yet many of our clients are unable to buy produce because of the expense.”

The Tyler Resource Center and Fresh Produce Processing Center, along with other infrastructure such as a new road for delivery trucks, represents a $7 million investment. Funding for these initiatives came from several generous grants including from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott and the American Rescue Plan Act. The new facilities are anticipated to be completed in the summer of 2023.

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