Grocery price hikes, permanent change peaks in station seasons, and overall inflation are just a few reasons why Fort Hood Food Pantry is seeking community help and support to restock its shelves.
“At the moment, our pantry is very low on many essential items,” says Teresa Paris, administrative support specialist at the Fort Hood Garrison Reverend’s Office. Simple things like condiments…things you don’t even think about until you have them.The reason we need help is because more and more families are coming every month.”
The Fort Hood Food Pantry, located in two rooms within the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel, nearly doubled the number of families served each month in July, up from 24 in June to 44 last month.
“We have a quick peanut butter and jelly here,” says Paris, who has been in the pastor’s office for more than a decade and has been working in the food pantry since her office took over in July 2017. “We have a pretty good selection of cereals, but they’re all the same. We don’t have a lot of variety.”
Food pantries provide emergency self-sufficiency. That means she can provide three days’ worth of preserved food to those who need it.
The Food Pantry is open to active duty military personnel, veterans, veterans, and members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty. Guards and reservists who are not on active duty may use the food pantry with a chaplain referral. Active duty units can also receive commissary gift cards if the unit’s chaplain brings food into his pantry, Paris said.
“Commissary cards are limited to $10 per family member,” Paris said, but said that amount could be increased based on the unit’s pastor’s recommendation. She said gift cards help pay for perishables like milk, bread, meat, fresh fruit and eggs.
Pfc. Jada McCoy will arrive at Fort Hood in October 2021. He began working in the Garrison Chaplain’s Office as an expert in new religious affairs. She started working in the pantry even before she logged on to her office computer.
“It’s so good to see people coming here and helping themselves, helping their families, relying on us,” she said. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces and to see them give us feedback saying we helped them.”
Since the summer of 2017, Parris has seen the pantry grow from one room to twice its current size. As the need grows, so too does support from many organizations for installation. She referred to the Post Commissary as a prime example.
“The (Fort Hood) Commissary has a ‘buy a bag’ program. It started as a holiday bag, but now we need help year-round, so they’re doing it year-round for us,” Paris said. When it comes here, it goes nowhere else.
“Both committees are doing it,” she added. “Today, Clear Creek is in food and Warrior Way is in toiletries and paper products. If you can’t buy cans of soup, you can’t buy toilet paper.”
Maintaining the confidentiality and dignity of patrons is imperative for those who use food pantry services, said a Catholic pastor who has been serving as a community pastor since arriving in Fort Hood in early June. According to one chaplain (captain) Eugene Sabarimtu.
“Sometimes when they come to the food pantry, they don’t understand what they’re really going through in their private lives. These are the three priorities that every human needs,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to do the best we can. We feel like we’re walking in their shoes, with dignity and confidentiality.”
If you need help, would like to volunteer time to help with the food pantry, or would like to have non-perishable food delivered, please call the Garrison Chaplain’s Office at 254-288-6545.