The last few weeks of the school year will fly by and it will mean thousands of kids will lose access to healthy meals.
A food pantry in Dallas is getting ready now for a summer of fighting hunger.
"Throughout this whole year, we've been serving more people, and the food demand's been greater. So we, know this summer is really gonna be hard on families and that we're gonna need to be prepared," said Anne Reeder, executive director of Wilkinson Center.
The nonprofit will launch its annual Stock up for Summer campaign on Monday, May 3, with the goal of collecting tons of food in 10 weeks to provide 10,000 meals a week. With the pandemic still impacting normal operations, Reeder hopes the community will step in to help.
"Anybody can do it. Anybody can get together at work, just do a little food drive, then drop it off at the pantry, It's very easy. Course, money. We love money. And we also have a wish list on Amazon. But we also would love to have volunteers. We're at the place where enough people have been vaccinated that we feel like we have volunteers back in the pantry again," Reeder said.
The pandemic posed a huge challenge, but Wilkinson Center adjusted to continue serving a community in need of record help.
"It went from 6,455 food pantry clients to 8,537, so it was a huge jump," Reeder said. "We normally serve a 9-ZIP code area that's assigned to us by North Texas Food Bank but during this past year, we've served every ZIP code. We've served people from Tarrant County because nobody leaves our pantry hungry without food."
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Wilkinson Center opens its food pantry to students in its adult education and job training classes as well, and Reeder says the pandemic has hit those students especially hard.
"Two of the ZIP codes that have been hardest hit by COVID-19, 75211 and 75217, are where two of our largest adult education classes are," she said.
As the pandemic continues to impact families, Reeder notices another change: resilience in the men and women who come to Wilkinson Center.
"A lot of people have decided to go back to school. They have decided, 'I don't want to have a job where I can be laid off so easily. I want a job with a salary. I want a career,'" she explained. "One of the interesting things women are saying is, 'I want to get into IT or teaching,' because they have a new appreciation for teachers after all the COVID with their kids at home."
The nonprofit has a nearly 40-year-old resume of getting clients out of poverty by addressing significant issues: basic human necessities like food and shelter, education and employment.
Compassion, dignity and respect are hallmarks of an agency that wants to see its clients become self-sufficient. And it's in that vein that Reeder shares her worry about the future.
"I think right now, that people have gotten stimulus checks, some people have gotten unemployment, what we worry about is when that is over, what's going to happen? Because many of those who come to our pantry are working poor families. They are not sitting home. They are working. Mom and dad are working probably several jobs, trying to keep it all together to support their family, and then if one or both of them got laid off, there's no backup plan because it's very hard for families like that to have savings and a cushion," she explained.
Food Pantry Service
- Food Pantry Service hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between 9:00 a.m. – noon; and Tuesday from – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Wilkinson Center’s food pantry is serving families in vehicles and curb-side for walk-ups. We are asking all individuals to park in front of the pantry and remain in their vehicles to be served.
- We serve families living in the following zip codes: 75204, 75206, 75214, 75223, 75226, 75227, 75228, and 75246.
- The head of household will need to bring a picture ID and proof of address such as a utility bill or lease.
- If you need additional information or have questions, please call 972-284-0377.
- La despensa de alimentos de Wilkinson Center, está asistiendo a las familias de la manera siguente: En la acera o banqueta a quienes llegen caminando y a los que llegen en vehículos les solicitamos que se estacionen frente a la despensa y permanezcan en sus vehículos para ser atendidos.
- Servimos a familias que viven en los siguientes códigos postales: 75204, 75206, 75214, 75223, 75226, 75227, 75228 y 75246.
- El jefe de familia deberá presentar una identificación con foto y un comprobante de domicilio, que puede ser una factura de servicios públicos o un contrato de arrendamiento.
- Si tiene preguntas o necesita más información llame al 972-284-0377.