Sgt. Perry Gobert perused the recently-stocked shelves of a local food pantry.
The ham, potatoes, bread, orange juice and two dozen eggs he left with will help Gobert, his wife and their two children stay fed throughout the next week without having to worry about budgeting for groceries.
“(Food) is the thing we spend the most money on,” said Gobert, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “If this is able to help us get an upper hand on groceries, I think that’s wonderful. It’s a big stress-reliever.”
Gobert received the food from Operation Once in a Lifetime, which passed inspection last week to receive items from the Capital Area Food Bank in Austin. The organization ordered 5,000 pounds of food for $250, which was delivered Thursday to the Sgt. Leevon Ritter Support Your Troops Resale Center’s food pantry in downtown Killeen. By the end of the day, the shelves were sparse as hundreds of families filtered in and out.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class John Valentine, vice president of the nonprofit, said working with the food bank is a tremendous opportunity to help the community and help soldiers save money on groceries. He anticipates being able to feed more than 500 families within the next two weeks.
“Our goal is to be able to help more families make it from paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “Right now, we’re in between paydays in the military ... where (people are thinking) ‘How are we going to be able to make it to payday?’ This will save them $50, maybe $100 in food for their families.”
Ash Wells, marketing director for the nonprofit, said it provides services for all branches of the military and veterans and their families.
“Our only requirement is that you served honorably,” said Wells, whose job is a full-time volunteer position.
While she said some organizations have strict requirements for who they’ll serve, the nonprofit doesn’t.
“There’s always a lot of help for civilians, but a lot of food assistance (for soldiers) require you to be a certain rank or make a certain amount of money,” she said. “We know there’s even a lot of sergeant majors who just can’t afford things sometimes.”
As the pantry gets new shipments of staple food items weekly, Gobert won’t have to worry about two children not having food to pack in their lunch boxes as they head off to school.
“It’s the best thing in the world,” he said. “It’s amazing.”