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East Texas Food Bank shares new plan to fight hunger

The new $12 million dollar plan is in part thanks to a $9 million dollar donation by Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott.

TYLER, Texas — The East Texas Food Bank brought forth details of a nearly $12 million plan to help the one in five East Texans facing hunger. 

This plan came into development thanks to a donation from Mackenzie Scott.

In late 2020, we had a real nice surprise," East Texas Food Bank Chairman of the Board Bill Mohl said. "Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott announced an unsolicited donation to the East Texas Food Bank." 

Members of the food bank were visibly excited about the announcement including CEO Dennis Cullinane. He said the donation allows them to focus on East Texas' most important needs. 

"We can focus on really implementing the gift and building that infrastructure right away, rather than going through years of fundraising," he said. 

The food bank is focusing on six key areas. Adding resource centers, running food drives in low-income areas, buying fresh produce, improving their buildings, partnering with other organizations to expand their reach and finally supporting legislation to end hunger.

"The plan is solid because the goals are solid. Cullinane added. We wanted to solve this problem by 2025."

"These newfound resources expand our reach into East Texas and accelerate our work toward closing the meal gap," Mohl said. 

The entire strategic plan is just under twelve million dollars with $9 million coming from Scott. The other $2.8 million is coming from other donors. By 2025, they're aiming to distribute 32-million meals. 

The East Texas Food Bank is one of 42 food banks across the country chosen for that round of donations. 

These are the six strategic points the East  Texas Food Bank in more detail. 

1. Major Partner Agency Investment- ETFB will invest in strategic partner food pantries to expand their capacity to provide traditional meal distribution as a primary way to increase local food resources and increase their SNAP outreach and applications. 2. Resource Centers- ETFB will bring the resource center model started in North Lufkin to other high-need communities. The resource centers will include a client-choice, healthy pantry and other wrap-around support services to provide a one-stop-shop of support for families.

3. Targeted Direct and Mobile Pantry Distributions- ETFB will continue direct, targeted distributions it started during the pandemic to reach low-income, under-resourced neighborhoods with fresh produce.

4. Fresh Produce and Purchasing Program- There is a high need for fresh produce, which is crucial for a healthy diet. ETFB will continue scaling its fresh produce and purchased food program to increase the availability and variety of items to its partner agencies.

5. State and National Advocacy- ETFB will work in partnership with Feeding Texas and Feeding America to secure high-priority public policy, legislation and resources to support the collective, long-term goals to end hunger.

6. Infrastructure- Key investments will include building out the East Texas Food Bank facilities and fleet and adding the staffing needed to meet this ambitious goal.