Every Saturday morning, bags and boxes of food are ready for families in East Dallas who come to get help from the nonprofit Empowering the Masses.
Most drive through. Those without a car walk up.
Some clients have never before been to a food pantry. Others are the working poor. They pay the bills but there's not enough for food.
"And we have to reassure people, it's okay. It's okay to come and ask for food. It's not like you're taking food from someone else," said Tammy Johnson who founded the nonprofit three years ago. "Our goal is to make sure we provide them that food with dignity. "
Dignity is in packing the food in bags donated from grocery stores, so to a kid, it looks like mom or dad went shopping.
Dignity is making sure those grocery bags have enough food for a week, and enough for a meal.
"It's more than just beans and rice. Because of our collaboration with shared life community outreach and North Texas Food Bank, we can order the items we put into the bags. And as I'm ordering the items to put into the bags, I'm thinking about it as if I was cooking, what would I do?," Johnson said.
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Johnson thinks like that because she knows the struggle. She was once fighting hunger, too.
"My sisters and I were often those kids who had to wait to go to school on Monday in order to eat. So we'd have breakfast and lunch at school and maybe a snack. So often times we'd go home and there wasn't anything to eat," she said. "If there was a food pantry available, they'd give us a box of food. And it was that big can of peanut butter, or cheese and it wasn't a lot for us to make a meal with but it was something to sustain us until we could get something else."
Everything Johnson does and the premise of Empowering the Masses - from food to job training - is because she's been there.
"I think I am who I am because someone reached out to me as an under-served individual and put that into me," she said. "And so, because of that, I went to school, I learned something, and I'm able to provide for my family. So my children have never experienced that all because somebody reached out to me."
Johnson says she could always use grocery bags to pack the food. Families also ask for dish soap and laundry detergent. She's also in the process of turning a shipping container into a storage unit and could use donations of shelving. If you want to help, you can reach Johnson HERE.
The Empowering the Masses Food Pantry is open every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11a.m. at 3314 Detonte Street in Dallas.