Agencies fighting hunger in North Texas will soon end a year of record-setting need, then turn around and head into the new year still facing unprecedented demand for help.
So, it was extra special the other day when some nonprofits got a surprise year-end bonus, so to speak.
"After the call, I went to my staff and was like, best zoom ever!" said Chery Jackson. She runs Minnie's Food Pantry, a nonprofit seeing more hungry clients, more new faces than ever before.
"You don't see the face of hunger as it used to be," Jackson said.
"The need, as Cheryl knows, has just been staggering," added Jay Cole. He's a pastor who runs the nonprofit Crossroads Community Services and feeds in southern Dallas, Ellis and Navarro counties.
"In February, pre-COVID, we would serve our network of 27,000 people roughly 460,000 pounds of food. The last three months, we've been distributing a million pounds of food to 80,000 people," he said.
Cole and Jackson were among nonprofits across the country invited to take part in a virtual discussion about fighting hunger and share best practices. It was hosted by Lynn Fisher, the executive director of The Moozie Foundation, a non-profit arm of the Rosewood Corporation in Dallas.
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For 45 minutes, the group of eight shared with Fisher and her board their struggles and successes of feeding an unprecedented number of clients, then she surprised them with the real reason she'd brought them together.
"At the end of the call, I said, 'The Moozie Foundation is very proud of the work that you're doing in our communities, and we would like to award you a $15,000 grant,' and woo!" she smiled.
"We'll take that $15,000 and it translates into $150,000 worth of groceries and that will be used by low-income families," Cole said.
"It was like a Christmas miracle, right? Miracle on 18th street for us is what we called it," Jackson said. "Historically we don't receive a lot of donations in January, February or march 'cause people had Christmas and are concerned about paying those bills
Minnie's Food Pantry, Crossroads Community Services, Empowering the Masses and Cornerstone Baptist Church were the four profits in North Texas that received the surprise awards. The other four were from other parts of the country.
No forms to fill out; no proposals to pitch; just a gift to say thank you.
"I would encourage my colleagues in the foundations and the nonprofit community to look for ways to break down those barriers whether shortening the process or streamlining it" to make it easier to get funds, Fisher said.
"Historically we don't receive a lot of donations in January, February or March 'cause people had Christmas and are concerned about paying those bills," Jackson said as she talked about what she described as an unexpected miracle.
As Jackson and Cole looked toward the new year, they see the lines of families in need continuing as the pandemic rages on. Yet, both believe the goodness of their communities will allow them to keep helping those in need.
"What I love about this community is when they know there's a problem, they rise up," Jackson said. "North Texas is an amazing community."
"Having prayers for our clients, having volunteers, getting the word out and learning what's going on in people's lives would be a blessing," Cole added.