Area food pantries see uptick in usage

Area food pantries see uptick in usage

Audrey Wallace, executive director of 5 Loaves Food Pantry unloads a donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in February. Throughout 2022, 5 Loaves served 30,000 families in Sachse and surrounding communities.

Increases to housing, food and energy costs led to more visitors at several local food pantries throughout 2022.

Executive Director of 5 Loaves Food Pantry Audrey Wallace said her nonprofit served 30,000 families this year, a 20% increase from 24,000 families in 2021.

Driving factors behind this increase were the overall economy and rising food prices that are causing more individuals to seek assistance, she said.

Wallace said the pantry had a successful 2022 outside of all the food it supplied, increasing the amount of clothing and diapers provided to families. In December, it also hosted its Christmas for the Children event at TNT Family Entertainment, which provided books, hygiene products and gifts for 405 children in need.

However, with increased needs, there will be challenges in the new year, said Wallace, mostly owing to the logistics of providing for more families in need.

“Our budget will increase this next year due to the increase in goods overall,” Wallace said. “We pray our funding and donations will also increase.”

The clothing closet provided by 5 Loaves has also moved outside because it has outgrown the inside room where items are currently stored, she said. The pantry is also looking for wholesale food providers that sell in bulk because of the food pantry’s growth.

In 2023, the nonprofit is “helping meet the needs of many more families and seeing what God has in store for us,” Wallace said.

Karen Ellis, executive director of Amazing Grace Food Pantry said the usual annual increase in individuals coming through their doors, 30%, was surpassed this year.

This year’s increase was 46%, said Ellis, but the pantry was still able to fulfill the needs of those coming through its doors. Pounds of food, the number of meals delivered and the number of visits increased 62% each.

Ellis said it is important to note that while each unique visitor is counted one time but that many individuals come multiple times in a month. In 2022, there were 26,010 visits compared to 16,045 last year.

“We’re thankful that the food is still very much available and that volunteers are still able to participate in serving others,” Ellis said.

Karen Ellis, CEO of Amazing Grace Food Pantry, said in 2022 the pantry saw a 46% increase in visitors. Additionally, pounds of food, number of meals delivered and number of visits increased 62% compared to 2021.

Students from Wylie Preparatory Academy chipped in at Hope for the Cities in 2022 to assist the nonprofit based at The Cross Church in Wylie. The nonprofit served two school districts — Wylie ISD and Community ISD — by providing help for back-to-school events and much more throughout the year.