Multiple organizations step into the gap in fight against hunger in Wood County

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With a large percent of Wood County residents living at or below the poverty level, hunger is an ever-present problem. According to Feeding America, one in five people struggle with hunger in East Texas. During the holiday time, that need seems to intensify. 

Several organizations, such as Mineola Kindness Kottage, Mineola Bread of Life Ministries, Quitman Mercy Mall and Rosehill Baptist Church Food Bank have opened with the sole purpose of helping those in need. 

The Kindness Kottage is a non-profit Christian organization that has served the area for 36 years with its monthly food pantry and emergency assistance program. The only requirement to receive assistance is to live in the Mineola school district. However, they will serve anyone one time and direct them to assistance for their location.

Kindness Kottage assistance program hours are Mon.-Fri. 9-3:30. The food amount given through the pantry is based on the number of people in the family and is available every 30 days. 

The Kindness Kottage resale store, open Mon.-Fri. 9-4 and Sat. 9-1, supports the food pantry and assistance program. It accepts donations of lightly used clothing and items, and is always needing volunteers to assist on the sales floor and with the heavy lifting of food for the pantry.

The Mineola Bread of Life Food Pantry, located at 1001 E. McDonald, has no geographical requirements for recipients. It is open on the first and third Tuesdays from 1-4 p.m., with recipients coming as early at 10 a.m. to sign up.

Bread of Life depends on donations and income from its monthly fundraising breakfast to purchase food from East Texas Food Bank and continue operations. 

Steve Ogueri, executive director of Bread of Life, can be reached at 903-405-0064 for more information or to make a donation.

The Quitman Mercy Mall, a non-profit organization, distributes food every second Friday from 9:30-11 a.m. and every Saturday from 10-noon, serving between 60-120 families weekly. 

There are no geographical requirements. Recipients qualify based on their income and state guidelines. Janet Toto, executive director of Mercy Mall, says the application process is easy, quick and permanent.

During the holidays, Mercy Mall tries to do holiday meals, but resources are not always available for Christmas. As a partner of East Texas Food Bank Feeding America program, Mercy Mall gets its food from retail store donations and by rescuing food that is close to expiring. 

Donations do not determine how many get served. People in need come from all over, and no one gets turned away.

“We see a need and it’s fulfilled. We always have enough,” says Toto.

Mineola Rosehill Baptist Church Food Pantry distributes food twice monthly from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Recipients in the Mineola zip code can receive food on the second Wednesday, and recipients in all other zip codes can come on the fourth Wednesday. There are no other qualifications.

Rosehill Baptist wants to connect with those in need more than just handing out a box of food to go. While recipients are waiting for their box to be packaged based on their family size, they can enjoy a hot meal or snack prepared by volunteers from the church. 

Donations of food and money for operating costs come from community members and businesses. Mineola Brookshire’s often donates bread and desserts, and the food program that operates out of Summit Heights Fellowship in Hawkins donates meat for the food boxes. 

Rosehill Baptist Food Pantry volunteers have become experts at bartering for needed food, and they receive strong support from First Christian Church in Mineola as well. 

“We thank God for opportunities to help others,” says Jeff Thompson, pastor of Rosehill Baptist.

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