ETX food pantry fights hunger with new permanent home

“Nobody wants to think, ‘Hey, I live in a poor county.’ But we do”

Timpson, Texas, pantry on the front lines of the battle against hunger, food insecurity

TIMPSON, Texas (KSLA) — It’s an unseen enemy that every year affects hundreds of thousands of people across East Texas.

It’s hunger.

And in Timpson, a city of about 1,300 nestled in Shelby County, leaders are fighting on the front lines against this invisible adversary.

“There’s lots of poverty, unemployment, elderly," Timpson Mayor Debra Smith said. “There’s a lot of people living check to check. You don’t know what’s around you sometimes."

More than 50% of Timpson’s residents have low to moderate incomes, the mayor said.

“We live in Shelby County. Shelby County is not a well-off county.”

The U.S. Census Bureau shows almost 39% of the people in the county live in poverty.

East Texas Food Bank serves 250,000 people across 26 Texas counties. More than 70% of this population chooses between buying food or potentially lifesaving medications.

“Nobody wants to think, ‘Hey, I live in a poor county.’ But we do,” Smith said.

Since 2013, the mayor has operated a tiny food pantry to serve her corner of Shelby County. It’s called Food For Thought and provides food to the community once a month.

“I would say of the 125 people we see pretty much every month, there’s probably 40% that have no income.”

First Baptist Church, located at 715 N. Second St., has housed this meaningful operation since 2015.

“Timpson has a great heart,” said Dee Daniel, pastor of First Baptist. “The people of Timpson are just wonderful; those that are able to help do help.”

Food For Thought plans to move to its permanent home across the street from the church. Construction has yet to begin.

But Smith said the new pantry also will house a thrift shop to raise money to buy more food for the community, Smith said.

She hopes to have the new Food For Thought building complete in early 2020 and plans for it to be open throughout the week.

Food for Thought currently serves 40-45 qualifying senior citizens and 100-150 individuals or families who register with the program and consider themselves to be in need of assistance with putting food on their table, according to the organization’s website.

The pantry has food available for pickup from 10 a.m. to noon on the third Friday of each month. Food for Thought’s next delivery will be Friday. The doors open at 9:30 a.m.

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