FORT WORTH -- When Jennifer Rumpff returned home from the hospital last week, her electricity had been cut off, ruining all the food in her refrigerator.
"I had bought up all the groceries I could buy," she said.
Rumpff is a single mother of two young children and makes $200 a week cleaning apartments. She receives food stamps, but by the end of the month they were used up.
She began calling food pantries for help, but most had closed for the day. Finally she called WestAid, a nonprofit group in west Fort Worth. It was closed too, but its executive director, the Rev. William Pherigo, managed to pull together two bags of groceries for Rumpff.
"I can't think of any other place that I would've been able to call after hours," she said. "I wouldn't have had any food to feed my kids tonight if it weren't for this. ... It's good that a place like this exists."
For 25 years, WestAid has provided southwest Tarrant County residents with emergency food in times of crisis. But now, the agency is finding itself in a bit of trouble. The food pantry has operated at a JPS clinic on Bryant Irvin Road for the past 12 years, but that space will no longer be available beginning in October.
WestAid is leaning toward leasing space at Camp Bowie West and Cherry Lane.
"It's a good size, and we were kind of running out of space here," Pherigo said. "I think it would give us the capacity to do a little bit more and be able to serve a few more people."
But unlike WestAid's current location, where the rent is free and the utilities are paid, the new site will come at a cost. Rent alone is estimated to be $18,000 a year, Pherigo said. "We're having to find what's available and what works for us, and what we hope we can afford," Pherigo said.
Carol Franke, a volunteer for WestAid, believes it will retain most of its clients. "I think if we put up a notice and let our families know where we are going, I'm almost sure they will follow us," she said.
In the past year WestAid has provided food to 2,513 families, compared with 2,306 families in the previous year.