H-E-B area food pantry faces rising costs and strong demand, sets $25K donation campaign

Catherine Hollis usually sees a drop in requests for help with food and other necessities during the spring months, but that isn’t the case this year.

Hollis is the executive director of Mission Central, a nonprofit that operates mobile food pantries in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford with First United Methodist Church of Hurst. Around 200 families rely on the mobile food pantries to help make ends meet.

The mobile food pantries will continue, but Hollis said inflation and rising food costs are hitting the “guests” who need assistance and the agencies that provide the food.

Mission Central launched a donation campaign to raise $25,000 by April 1 to offset the cost increases and to keep operating the food pantry.

“Just like every nonprofit we are stretched,” Hollis said. “People have responded generously, but as always, there is plenty of need in lots of areas.”

Mission Central is among the social agencies that partner with the Tarrant Area Food Bank. The food bank sent letters to the agencies notifying them that fees are changing because of rising costs for food and fuel and government funding that helped offset those costs during the pandemic is ending.

The letter stated that food costs, with protein leading the surge, increased 13.5% over last year and that fuel increased over 40%.

Population growth is also driving the need for services, according to the Food Bank.

Before the pandemic, Hollis said, Mission Central saw a “very clear dip” in requests for help during February and March because people got their income tax refunds. During the pandemic, there were numerous assistance programs, including the emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Those ended Feb. 28, meaning that families have less to spend on food.

The Star-Telegram reported that the end of the emergency benefits affect approximately 96,000 households in Tarrant County.

“It’s very difficult. In the heart of the pandemic, there were so many opportunities to get support,” Hollis said. “They are disappearing but yet food prices are going up. Rent is going up the issues people are facing are still the same.”