The Commerce Journal

September 12, 2013

Commerce residents keep pantry stocked for those in need

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — When residents of Commerce fall on hard times and don’t know where their next meal may come from, the Commerce Food Pantry is there to help.

Dennis White, board president of Commerce Food Pantry Inc., said the pantry began seven years ago when members of the community wanted to give aid to fellow residents.

“It was noticed there was an ongoing  need here in Commerce,” he said.

The pantry is open every Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the First United Presbyterian Church on Monroe Street.

White said the pantry feeds hundreds of people every month.

“Each week we’ll have any number from 30 to 40 families, or 90 to 100 individual families per month,” he said. “That translates to 200 to 250 people.”

According to White, the goal of the non-profit organization is to help people enough to where there is no longer a need for it to exist.

White said the pantry plans to do this by helping people find jobs and be presentable when job searching.

“Our goal is to not have any needs at all,” he said. “For those who are actively seeking employment, we give them hair products, deoderant, and even a free haircut sometimes, to help make them more presentable for an interview.”

The pantry relies on donations from individuals and businesses in Commerce to feed the people who come through their doors.

White said businesses such as Brookshire’s and Walmart have helped the pantry in different ways.

Churches, postal workers, the Commerce Fire and Police Departments, and college students and faculty and staff of Texas A&M University-Commerce have also helped out tremendously, according to White.  

“To me, for Commerce being such a small town, I have been overwhelmed at the generosity of the people,” he said. “I’ve really appreciated the way people donate here. They really care about their own, and it’s really appreciated.”

White said the pantry tries to serve healthy meals with enough protein and vitamins for the families coming through their doors.

If business continues to increase, White said they are planning on moving to a larger location that will be able to house a refrigerator and freezer.

“Hopefully we’ll move to a larger location where we can have perishable goods,” he said.

The food pantry will have a booth set up at the upcoming Bois D’ Arc Bash from Sept. 27-28 in downtown Commerce, detailing what the organization does for residents of Commerce, and how to lend a helping hand.

“We’re there to let people know there’s a need,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s an ongoing need.”