Rising need for food in Central Texas, especially in ‘food deserts’

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) -Local organizations say the pandemic is fueling an increase in the need for food for low-income communities, especially, in so-called “food deserts.”

Shepherd’s Heart offers food in its pantries throughout Waco. It also employs a mobile food pantry to deliver food and water to communities in the area.

“We’ve seen a surge in needs over the last couple of months,” said Shepard’s Heart Executive Director Robert Gager.

It is increasingly difficult for people living in the food deserts to find food and other resources. “What that really means is there are stores out along the periphery of the city and not very much in the inner city,” Gager said, “They are not within walking distance for them to get fresh, nutritious food.”

Gager said people who do have access to a store are encountering another pandemic-related barrier: food and product shortages.

“Because people are hearing about it, now there is a little bit of food fear going on and, so they are looking for more, so they might stock up,” Gager said.

“There’s things that I might get at the store that isn’t there at times, but these are families that need more food for their kids.”

Gager said that’s why they offer 16 different sites every month to find food. His food pantry is also starting new partnerships with other entities, like Waco High School.

“We offer it because they need it,” Keli Jackson Freeman, the Parent and Community Involvement Specialist at Waco High, said.

“We are here to do it because it’s not just families but students as well that need it.”

There is such a need that Waco High has started a food pantry right within their school for students and their families. They say they have already given out about 200 bags of food to those in need.

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