Greater need at area food banks for holidays

Cove House Food Center Drive

The state’s largest annual food drive, Food for Families, took place Friday in Killeen and other locations. But local food pantries still need donations year-round, and even more during the holidays.

The Killeen Food Care Center provides food for 6,800 local individuals each month, and distributes about two million pounds every year, co-executive director Ann Farris said.

Demand only increases around Thanksgiving, she said, and the center seeks to meet that need.

It is in the process of assembling and distributing 3,000 turkey baskets to needy area families, including Fort Hood families, by Thanksgiving. Several hundred have already been distributed, but the center is short on turkeys and stuffing mix. Without a turkey, Farris said, the basket “doesn’t count.”

Other useful items include canned corn, green beans and yams.

Beyond the holidays, however, Farris said, certain items are always needed. Those include peanut butter, which is nutritious and kid-friendly, and cereal, which many seniors eat for dinner.

The Food Care Center relies on the community to operate, Farris said.

“We are funded by the community and fueled by volunteers,” she said.

Cove House

The Cove House Emergency Homeless Shelter operates a community food bank in Copperas Cove.

Last month, it served 250 households, equaling about 800 people, executive director Benjamin Tindall said. Individuals with a demonstrated need are given 10 pounds of food each month.

About 15 percent are military families.

That number could rise this month and next, Tindall said, as the holidays and cooler weather usually create more demand.

“We’re definitely looking forward to helping out the community,” he said. “We love being able to welcome people.”

But, he said, the holidays usually deplete much of the pantry’s resources. Meats of any kind, including canned, are always in demand but especially needed this time of year, he said.

Communities in Schools

At the Killeen Communities in Schools office, executive director Mary Erwin Barr struggles year round to fight child hunger through a backpack buddy system.

Instead of a food bank, children’s backpacks are filled with food by program staff at their schools. About 600 children receive such support from the organization.

“That’s our means of transportation,” Barr said.

There’s more child hunger in the community than many might imagine, she said. “For of a lot of our school kids, they go home and there’s no food until they get back to school,” which impacts their academic performance and behavior, among other things.

Children in the area are hungry year-round, Barr said, but around the holidays the program tries to give children something special.

“Any time we get turkeys and hams and things like that, we make sure we get it out to families during the holidays,” she said. The program has only been able to attain a few of those items so far this year, however.

All three programs are accepting donations. The Food Care Center is at 710 E. Avenue E in Killeen and can be reached at (254) 554-3400. The Cove House is at 108 E. Halstead Ave. in Copperas Cove. Its phone number is (254) 547-4673. Communities in Schools’ office is at 4520 E. U.S. 190, Suite 106 in Killeen. Call (254) 554-2132.

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