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Flood of Donations Gives Commerce Food Pantry New Life, But Fix is Only Temporary

COMMERCE - The Commerce Food Pantry had been running dangerously low on supplies. So the last few Sundays before worship volunteer Dennis White has stood before his fellow church members to remind them of the growing need to restock the shelves. 

“We were down to two boxes of Macaroni and Cheese,” White said.

But on Sept. 23, White was thanking the congregation and community for their recent efforts to fill the pantry. That’s due in large part to the students of Commerce ISD, who delivered roughly 2,900 cans of food to the pantry two days earlier, exceeding their goal by 200.

The harsh reality is this current stock will only last a few weeks, as more and more Commerce families are seeking assistance.

“[We serve] 30 families a week. And that represents at least 120 family members,” White said, adding the increase in those needing help is a combination of a rise in poverty and better communication within the community.

Housed in the First Presbyterian Church, the Commerce Food Panty distributes non-perishable food items each Thursday between 2-4 p.m. Donations to the pantry can be made in the form of food, money and time. Here's a list of acceptable foods.

Volunteers say since hitting a low point earlier this month, generous donations have been pouring in.

“On Sept. 6 we had to close early because we ran out of food. And word went through Commerce in two days; not just from the people that were trying to pick up food but everybody,” said Jim Norwood.

Dennis White added, “People in Commerce have been really generous. But they have to know about it.”

Volunteer James Rhodes says some items go faster than others.

“It’ll be a miracle if next week I don’t have to go buy pancake mix and syrup. Apparently that’s a hot item that they give the kiddos when they come in from school.”

The Commerce Police and Fire Departments have indicated they’d like to help generate supplies for the pantry.  And in the coming weeks, the Texas A&M University -Commerce Police Department and various student organizations will be conducting food drives across campus. The local post office is also said to be a consistent volunteer in helping raise canned goods.

“It gets embarrassing to have to stand up every Sunday to have to do the beg-a-thon speech, but it’s an ongoing necessity,” said White. “This [recent donations] will actually delay us having to ask every week. In three or four weeks we’ll be doing it again.”

You can learn more about the Commerce Food Pantry by calling the Presbyterian Church Office at 903-886-3783.