Tri-State Food Bank meeting the unseen needs this holiday season

Tri-State Food Bank meeting the unseen needs this holiday season
Published: Dec. 25, 2022 at 7:35 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - During Christmas 2021, the people of western Kentucky were still picking up the pieces, two weeks removed from a deadly tornado. Among the many organizations that stepped up to help in that time was the Tri-State Food Bank, and they are continuing to help this holiday season.

The outpouring of donations packed churches, schools and warehouses following last year’s tornado. Then again after devastating floods in eastern Kentucky back in July, the community provided for their fellow Kentuckians in need.

“It was just so devastating to see that destruction,” said Glenn Roberts, executive director of the Tri-State Food Bank.

As time has passed, Roberts wants to make sure these communities aren’t forgotten.

“Some of these families, it’s going to take years for them to recover and get into permanent housing,” Roberts said. “We had the idea that when they finally get to move back into an apartment or a home, to stock their pantry.”

With an emphasis on rebuilding, Roberts says families moving into new homes might not have much to fill their houses with. This is why the Tri-State Food Bank is giving families a $1,000 Walmart gift card so they can stock their pantries.

“This is something they were not expecting,” Roberts said. “They were hoping to get a new house, yes. They were not expecting an additional $1,000 to stock their pantry.”

He also says his team has learned valuable lessons through the natural disasters of the last 12 months. One thing they quickly realized is survivors are being gifted so many canned goods, with no way to open them, making them almost useless.

“What we’ve done is taken disaster relief funding and we’ve purchased 8,000 can openers.”

And now, the Tri-State Food Bank is calling themselves the unofficial can opener capital of the Midwest, allowing them the ability to ship can openers to survivors of the next natural disaster.

“It’s our job to think about these things and think about what’s missing,” Roberts said. “Where can we fill a need that no one else is filling?”

In addition to the $1,000 gift cards and the stockpile of can openers, Roberts says the food bank is working with T-Mobile to get people’s phones loaded with data and minutes. He says someone who qualifies for the phone can focus on spending their money on necessities like food this holiday season.