As the holidays draw near, Fort Hood families in need can seek the services of the Army Community Service Food Pantries to ensure no one goes hungry this Thanksgiving.
Donations to the pantry come from various groups, including area nonprofits, family readiness groups and clubs. Individuals donating include local families in the midst of moves and those who have been helped by the pantries before.
“There’s the idea that ‘You’ve helped me when I needed it,’” said Karen Bradshaw, ACS program manager.
The largest benefactor is Life Austin, which provides a grant to Capital Area Food Bank to distribute food to the pantries. Nearly $400 worth of food is donated each month, Bradshaw said.
The pantries average 100 to 125 families using their services monthly.
Each family is given three to five days worth of food on a visit, the amount depending on the size of the family, said Staff. Sgt. Marie McBean, command financial specialist with III Corps. McBean works in the food pantries, sorting incoming donations and helping families obtain the food they need.
“We try to be as accommodating as possible,” she said.
The first questions asked regard the families’ allergies and dietary restrictions.
McBean also provides recipes and tips for families who may not know what to do with the items they receive. They can be referred to off-post food care centers, too, if their needs can’t be filled with the ACS food pantries.
While the holidays tend to be when the facilities are most-stocked, the most need occurs in the summertime.
“That’s when we’re least stocked ... and children are home from school,” Bradshaw said. “The families must provide all of the meals each day.”
ACS doesn’t only provide food to families needing help. Upon return visits to the center, families are offered financial guidance, too, in the hopes they won’t need to rely on food pantries for long.
“If the visits are on a repeated basis, we try to dig deeper to see what’s going on,” Bradshaw said.
Soldiers and families can be referred to Army Emergency Relief, as well as financial and consumer counseling and advocacy.
“We can have follow up appointments with our counselors, help them complete a budget, go over financial goals and see how we can help them stick to them,” Bradshaw said.
All of these services are located in the Rivers Building, alongside one of the food pantries.
No appointment is needed to visit the facilities. Call 254-287-8979.