‘Demand has increased exponentially’: Food banks ask for donations, volunteers in Houston area

HOUSTON – The demand for volunteers and donations at food pantries throughout Greater Houston has “increased exponentially" ahead of the holidays, the Houston Food Bank said.

In a typical year, more than 700,000 people are considered food insecure in the region. During the pandemic, many food pantries have reported that demand has doubled or even tripled.

The Houston Food Bank said the organization, which partners with 1,500 providers throughout the 18-county region, is most in need of volunteers and cash donations.

Some smaller pantries, like Katy Christian Ministries, prefer direct food donations and also need volunteers.

“So many families are hungry, not eating, need food,” said Marilyn Price, who volunteers with the Houston Food Bank several times per week.

“We’re short 25 volunteers on Tuesday, 21 on Wednesday," she said. “We can’t let them down, no matter how short we are. But we are in dire need of extra volunteers."

“There’s so much going on in the world right now. To give (to) people that are in need, I don’t know, it’s pretty special, I think,” said Joe Bieber, who volunteered for the first time with the food bank on Tuesday.

In a typical year, the Houston Food Bank and its 1,500 or so partners in the 18-county Southeast Texas region distribute about 450,000 pounds of food per day.

That’s up to around 800,000 pounds per day right now, spokeswoman Paula Murphy said.

The food bank began twice a week mass distributions in March, which have continued until now.

“It means a lot,” said Tina Bond, who waited in line on Tuesday. “I’m unemployed. Since COVID, I’ve lost two jobs."

“My husband’s been laid off,” said Cassandra Altona, from Spring. “Having a little bit of extra food to help, especially to feed the kiddos, it’s super important for keeping them healthy.”

The demand for food from the Houston Food Bank and its 1,500 partners typically increases in Summer and during the Holidays, when free school meals are unavailable.

You can sign up to volunteer or donate cash or food at www.houstonfoodbank.org.