High Plains Food Bank helps Hemphill County residents facing staggering unemployment
AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Although the Together We Can Food and Fund Drive occurs in Amarillo, the High Plains Food Bank helps families from across the golden spread, working with at least one agency in all 29 counties across the panhandle.
In Canadian, residents who rely heavily on the oil and gas industry were hit exceptionally hard during the pandemic.
During the early months of the pandemic, the Hemphill agency was running out of meals.
“We’re a huge oil and gas county and all the drilling rigs shut down, oil and gas prices had dropped,” said Tanya Holloway, the family and community health agent in Hemphill County for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. “Our office manager handed out our food distribution in March and she called me and said ‘we ran out of boxes,’ and we were still needing food. It was because they had already started losing jobs because of the pandemic.”
There, the amount of families facing food insecurity nearly tripled from 30 to 104.
“We’ve had a number of families who had zero income coming in (because) both adults in the household lost their income. A lot of that (was) because of oil related jobs and then it’s just the trickle effect of how that’s affected all out other businesses in town... the restaurants, just everything.”
With the help of The High Plains Food Bank, the agency now provides Hemphill families with two or more boxes of food a month.
“They actually signed up their 4-H club to be an agency with the food bank. Now the county is actually providing the meat, the produce, just a lot more different quality of food for our clients down there,” said Whitney Wade, the agencies relations coordinator for the High Plains Food Bank. “Instead of getting able to go once a month, they’re now going two or three times a month to the county extension office.”
Wade said Hemphill county is no anomaly, many Panhandle counties are seeing an increase of families in need of food.
“We have seen an increase definitely in the amount of food that they’ve ordered and the amount of clients they have served,” said Wade. “Some of our agencies I know have doubled or tripled their numbers and a lot of their distribution models have changed as well. They’re now doing more drive thru style, a lot of them have actually taken on delivering boxes straight to clients.”
If you would like to help families all across the golden spread, you can drop off non-perishable food items to United Market Street.
You can also easily donate by purchasing a scan tag at checkout from United, Amigos or Market Street.
This year the food bank is focusing heavily on cash donations, as they buy food in bulk for cheaper.
A single dollar can provide up to five meals for families supported by the High Plains Food Bank.
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