Northeast Tarrant

Food bank moving to Fort Worth with plans to alleviate hunger, provide disaster relief

Hungry families get help from the Everman mobile food pantry

Everman families get fresh food at an outdoor pantry at Johnson Park once a month. The resource is a collaboration among the school district, Everman United Methodist Church, the city of Everman and the Tarrant Area Food Bank.
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Everman families get fresh food at an outdoor pantry at Johnson Park once a month. The resource is a collaboration among the school district, Everman United Methodist Church, the city of Everman and the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

There’s a new food bank in Dallas-Fort Worth donating $1.5 million worth of food per month while also fundraising for a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Fort Worth.

The Midwest Food Bank started operating out of 6 Stones on Industrial Boulevard in Bedford in September, providing food to 37 North Texans pantries while supplying the Salvation Army’s disaster relief efforts. As the name implies, the food bank started in 2003 in Illinois but has spread to 10 locations, including eight in the United States and one each in Haiti and Africa.

The Bedford location is the newest but the digs are only temporary. Board president Richard Stoller plans to raise $15 million to build a 100,000-square-foot facility near Loop 820 and Interstate 30 in east Fort Worth. The 10-acre site was donated and fundraising has started with plans to start construction in 2020.

The Midwest Food Bank joins the North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank, which already serve the North Texas area.

“We give all of our stuff away for free. Our model is, we’re a faith-based organization, we don’t have anything to do with the government,” Stoller said. “We can get it from anywhere that wants to give it to us and we can distribute it anywhere. Midwest Food Bank is hugely volunteer driven.”

The majority of their food is donated from manufacturers for a variety of reasons, such as a packaging error or a discontinued item. They get the whole range of items in bulk, both perishable and non-perishable, and they have volunteers who divide it up into smaller amounts for the individual food pantries to distribute. They stock everything from turkeys and bread to canned beans and salt and pepper.

Jada Hoerr, development and relationships director for Midwest Food Bank, said in addition to the donated food, they have their own product called Tender Mercies that’s a rice and beans packet fortified with minerals and nutrients.

“Our mission is to alleviate hunger and support in times of disaster as well and doing it as a faith-based organization in the name of Jesus Christ,” Hoerr said. “We provide food without discrimination so it doesn’t have to be a faith-based organization.”

Once they build the new warehouse, they’ll be able to take in more food; right now food that comes in has to be distributed quickly because they’re in a shared space.

Stoller played a key role in bringing Midwest Food Bank to Texas. His brother-in-law and a few college friends were already involved in the food bank in Illinois and told him about the mission and how rewarding it is.

When the Keller resident retired from the energy management industry, he started getting more serious, taking the first steps to bring the food bank here in September 2017.

“I just got intrigued by it. So, by the time I could retire, I wanted to get involved with it so I talked with them about starting a Midwest Food bank here in Texas.”

A year later, they had the temporary location in Bedford and plans for a permanent facility in Fort Worth that could serve the entire region — they aren’t limited to a jurisdiction.

“Having a facility in Texas is very strategic as far as disaster relief support,” Hoerr said.

The Midwest Food Bank partners also distribute to homeless shelters, providing them with fresh food for meals.

Sometimes they get snacks and desserts that aren’t necessarily nutritious but they accept them anyway, Stoller said. Families need variety and they offset that by providing fruit, vegetables and the Tender Mercies packs.

“The balancing act is always how much is nutritional,” Stoller said. “That’s not what we want to focus on but if a manufacturer has that, if we refuse to take that they’ll find somebody else to take that and … they’ll give them their good stuff, too. So we end up with some junk food.”

Jennifer Leney, executive director of 6 Stones, said they were glad to offer space to Midwest Food Bank. “The thing that Midwest does that’s amazing compared to other food banks … they’re doing it for free so we can focus our money on other things that will change their lives,” Leney said. “We help solve that food insecurity in the community.”

To donate to Midwest Food Bank’s Texas operations or toward the building fund, vistit midwestfoodbank.org/locations/texas/donate-texas.

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