We are about halfway through the year, and I think an update on all the work the team is doing in order to transform our community is in order. There are a lot of moving parts, and even more moving stories, but let me bore you with some numbers first.
With our continuing disaster relief meals, as well as our community meals, we have served 6,935 meals so far this year. At this point last year we had served barely 3,000 meals. Obviously, we are not hoping to have to the the volume of disaster relief dinners that we had to in 2017, but we are ready if necessary. We have had significant growth in our community meals at Laundry Love and at the Tamarac Community. We continue to serve meals to the Harvey affected area of the Needham Road Community, as well as to our partners in disaster relief in the Magnolia Community. We even have a volunteer who takes meals to a homeless camp off of 1960.
Our food pantries have also grown. So far in 2018 we have distributed 45,000 pounds of food. The food we have shared has gone to the Montgomery County Women's Center, Montgomery County Youth Services, social services at Moorhead Junior High in the Conroe ISD, and to our communities at Tamarac Pines, Laundry Love, and Needham Road. We also have shared with the St. Isidore Community, as well as our host church, Trinity Episcopal when they have people come in asking for assistance.
We could not do any of this with out the help of our fantastic volunteer team. This year we have had over 250 different people volunteer 1,695 hours. We have teams helping with food pantries, prepping meals and serving on the truck teams.
I love some of the stories we are hearing back. Kira, the social service counselor at Moorhead picked up food early in the morning. That way her office could be stocked when students in need were hungry at lunch or before their after school activities. The pre-made salads and wraps were always a big hit, as was the washed and cut fruit that our volunteers prepared for her to pick up. For some reason the blood oranges were really popular with the preteen boy crowd! ;)
Ms. Kay is a disabled veteran who served our country with distinction. She is able to receive fresh fruits and vegetables for her and her children each week at one of our early morning food pantries. The volunteers know that she can not get easily in and out of her car, and pack a box for her each week. Through building this relationship, they know that her and her family's favorites are turkey, strawberries, cinnamon raisin bread, and if we have fresh flowers, she likes daisies. When she pulls up, her boxes of food (and flowers) are ready and waiting for her, so she does not have to struggle to pull out her walker.
Some members of our Needham Road Community mentioned that their children were super hungry at dinner time because they had not eaten lunch. They had, during the school year, been receiving the free lunches the school offered. With school out of session, and the nearest place to get those meals 3+ miles away across a busy highway, they were just going without. We asked a few volunteers if they could help, and they donated over 500 disposable bento boxes. Then we asked our host church of Trinity Episcopal if they new any volunteers who could help pack the lunches. The office and pastoral staff volunteered to do it themselves as part of their weekly staff meeting. Now, each week, we have 30 less hungry young people eating a nutritious, protein packed lunch (with a tiny sweet treat).
2018 is a defining year for us as an organization. We are plotting, scheming, dreaming and visioning how we can continue to grow and really address the needs of our community.