Food banks across Texoma give out thousands of pounds of food each month, but now the food bank in Bowie is in desperate need of help; its shelves are nearly empty. Some of it is tied to a slow-down in donations in Bowie, which are down 20% from this time last year. But another aspect goes back to the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank, which is working to improve and enlarge its facility.
Bowie Mission helped hundreds of families last month, giving out 19,000 pounds of food. On two different occasions in August, the food bank ran out of basic items.
"I've been working 12 years down here and that's the first time that's ever happened," said Co-Director David White.
Normally, each family that comes in for help starts off by getting a 40-pound box of various food items. White says the boxes for September only have 34 pounds each. He attributes that to the current economy.
"It's just tough 'cause there's a bigger need than there has been in the past. Of course, individuals aren't donating like they did at one time," he said.
But Bowie Mission is also receiving less food from the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank -- about 2,000 pounds less this August as compared to August 2009. That's because the area food bank is adding on to its warehouse to make more room for food and volunteers.
"The construction here at the food bank has caused us to shut down our food recovery operation for a small period of time," said Executive Director Mary Stengel.
In the meantime, the mission has empty shelf and table space where White says there are normally boxes stacked to the ceiling.
"You can't even get in this room most of the time on Thursdays because it's so packed with people needing help," he said.
White does think donations will pick back up for the holidays. Stengel says even with construction, they realize hunger can't wait.
"We feel so bad about that and we're so sorry, but at the same time it's exciting because we're gonna be able to house a lot more food," she said.
"We're very short-handed and we need help, volunteers, and we need food," White said.
The items they need most are canned goods, and other basic items like flour, sugar, and peanut butter.
Both White and Stengel expressed appreciation for the people and organizations that are still volunteering and donating.
The construction at the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank should be done near the end of November.
For more information Bowie Mission and food donations, use the attached link to the Bowie Mission homepage.