By Tony Farkas
COLDSPRING — Help is here in San Jacinto County.
The newest food bank in Texas, Trinity River Food Bank serves four counties in Texas — Walker, San Jacinto, Trinity and Liberty — under the umbrella of the Houston Food Bank.
Christine Shippey, president and CEO of Trinity River Food Bank, said the reason the bank set up in SJ is that we have partners in the county, but we feel there needs to be more.
“We feel that we can distribute the food here and get the benefits going because there’s a lot of people that don’t know what benefits are available to them,” she said.
Shippey said these are the four hardest counties to serve for the Houston Food Bank because there is very high food insecurity and very low income; the average monthly income in Texas is $3,000 per month, but in this area it’s closer to $1,200 a month.
“There’s no stability in having food for families on a regular basis, and there are food deserts all over the area,” she said. “We are working with our partners and have created a hub that benefits everyone.”
Wanda Campbell, director of operations for the San Jacinto County hub, said anyone can get help at the food bank as long as they meet the criteria.
“People can come in and either present a link card or fill out an application,” Campbell said. “That gives us information about the client to tell the state and county the type of people that are being served. If you’re not in need of food that day, you’ll get an appointment, and then people can visit the food bank once every 14 days.”
At each visit, people can get 90 pounds of food per family, and the food that’s available covers the nutritional gamut — dairy, dry goods, grains, meat, breads and fresh produce. Shipments come from the warehouse on Mondays.
“We’re here four days a week, Mondays through Thursdays, and we have developed a system to help people skip the long lines,” Campbell said. “People can make appointments online or call and talk to a case manager.”
Shippey said it’s more about food for their customers; they want to help the whole person and the whole situation to bring sustainability to families.
“We don’t just hand out food, we offer wraparound services,” Shippey said. “We do referrals to medical clinics, indigent health care, GED programs, ESL, food stamps, job referrals; if there is a resource out there to help people, we’ll connect the two.”
Trinity River Food Bank is a partner distribution organization food bank, and has been working with the Houston Food Bank through the Covenant with Christ International Organization since 2017. It became Texas’ 22 food bank in 2022.
The bank will open a new 13,900 square foot distribution center in Cleveland for the four counties it serves in July, and then in the fall it will start augmenting school programs in the four counties, and then taking food trucks into the food deserts.
• Trinity River Food Bank is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 201 Highway 150 Suite A in Coldspring. For information or an application, call (936) 653-3151 or visit the website at www.trinityriverfoodbank.org.