Lufkin, TX: The T.L.L. Temple Foundation (TLLTF) recently awarded a $4,036,882 grant to the East Texas Food Bank (ETFB), payable over four years. This year, ETFB launched a new strategic plan aimed at expanding its programs and services to more effectively meet the needs of its struggling neighbors. This grant, in addition to assistance from ETFB’s network of partner agencies and community leaders, will allow ETFB to ensure access to nutritious food for people struggling with hunger and make meaningful progress toward ending hunger in East Texas.
Alleviating food insecurity is one of the foundation’s highest priorities according to Wynn Rosser, president and CEO of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. Rosser said, “Our region has higher rates of food insecurity than the state and nation. ETFB’s mission is aligned with the foundation’s priority on food insecurity. ETFB and the foundation have a history of working together to end hunger, and we are appreciative of their dedication to our service area.”
Across the 11 counties within TLLTF’s service area (Bowie, Cass, Anderson, Cherokee, Rusk, Panola, Shelby, Houston, Nacogdoches, Angelina, San Augustine), ETFB’s goal is to provide 15.3 million meals annually by 2025, 10% increase from its current meal distribution. One of ETFB’s key strategies to reach these ambitious goals is the sustainment of the hunger initiatives in East Texas that began in 2020 with the partnership of TLLTF, as well as the launching of bold new initiatives in counties served by the foundation. Within these strategic goals, key focus areas have been outlined to comprehensively address hunger and poor nutrition in East Texas and the surrounding region over the next three years, including agency development and capacity-building, fresh produce distribution, and SNAP application assistance.
“We are truly grateful for our partnership with the T.L.L. Temple Foundation and their continued support of our goal to ensure that every hungry East Texas family has access to the healthy food and other resources that they need to thrive,” said Dennis Cullinane, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank. “Our organizations share a parallel mission related to the food security and health of our communities and we could not be more pleased by the trust that the Temple Foundation has placed in us.”
A vital part of addressing issues of hunger and health is developing strategic partnerships with pantries in ETFB’s agency network that can provide low-income neighbors with access to nutritious foods they need to lead a healthy lifestyle. ETFB currently partners with 61 non-profit food pantries in counties that are served by TLLTF. This grant will allow ETFB to maintain current partnerships while building relationships with additional agencies dedicated to ending hunger in East Texas.
ETFB’s Fresh Produce Program provides fresh fruits and vegetables to partner pantries throughout East Texas. In FY2021, more than 10.7 million pounds of produce was distributed, including more than five million pounds across 11 counties within TLLTF’s service area. With the help of this grant money over the next three years, ETFB’s goal is to increase produce distribution in TLLTF’s counties by approximately 10 million pounds by FY2025.
In addition to distributing food to low-income East Texans, ETFB also works to connect clients with available benefits and resources, including SNAP, Medicaid, TANF and the Medicare Savings Program. The Benefits Assistance Program is an important strategy for achieving overall meal goals. ETFB’s Benefits Assistance Team leverages partner pantries by training and equipping them to provide application assistance directly to their clients. This grant will increase the reach and impact of the program and help the food bank serve more people.