Fannin County food pantry faces closure - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Fannin County food pantry faces closure

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BONHAM -- Sharon Aleman comes to Fannin County Community Ministries almost every month. She considers the food pantry a lifeline for her family. But soon, relying on the ministry won't be an option if it doesn't find a new place to operate.

"It's going to devastate me really," Aleman said. "This is the first I'm hearing of this. I almost want to cry."

Aleman is one of nearly 1,000 people served by the food pantry each month.

The organization's president, Gary Vernon, says it has been operating rent-free out of an empty warehouse in Bonham for six years.

Now, the building's owner has decided to lease it to a company called Trans Cable International. KTEN attended a recent ribbon cutting when the company announced its move to Bonham.

"So it's good for the community, you know, we have no problem with that. We understand business is business and they need to do what's right for their organization," Vernon said.

Vernon says he was notified two months ago that Fannin County Community Ministries will have to move out. He says he's been looking for a new location ever since, but so far, no luck.

"Just haven't had  a hit yet," he said. "We are looking for a new place to move to but it has to be donated just because our income that we spend every month goes to our overhead bills, mainly for food. 70% of it we actually spend on food products."

For now, volunteers are in the process of moving the pantry's food supply to another warehouse donated for temporary use.

Moving forward, Sharon Aleman says realizing this resource may not be here is unsettling.

"I don't know what I'll do," she said.

The ministry has until the end of July to find a new location.

Vernon recently sent local media outlets an open letter to the public:

"This is a letter from your Fannin County Community Ministries Food Pantry. We say your Food Pantry because you provide the support for this organization - financial and otherwise - and without you we would not exist. The reason for this letter is not only to inform you of our current status, but to also solicit your immediate help in finding a new donated location. We say "donated" because we spend just about all of your donations to buy food for the almost 400 families we help each month.

If you have been reading the local papers or listening to Bonham radio you must be aware that we are losing the space at our current location (the old General Cable Plant). The original date for vacating this location was June 1. We have negotiated a temporary extension, contingent upon us continuing to look for a new location. We have been told that this two month extension (to the end of July) is the final date to vacate the rest of the building.

If we do not find a new location by the end of June, we will have no choice but to start implementing plans to close your Food Pantry.

Here are our basic needs:

  • A front office to process our clients and for files and other office equipment
  • Bathroom facility for our volunteers
  • Parking for our volunteers and clients
  • Climate controlled Warehouse space (we have a window air conditioner in our current food room) for food and other products. We have 15 refrigerators and freezers we need to plug in
  • Access to our Warehouse (preferably on-site) for deliveries (does not need to have a loading dock) just room for the North Texas Food Bank delivery truck)
  • Does not need to be all "ours" we can share with another business as we do now
  • Prefer a Bonham (or close by) location as over half our clients have a Bonham address.

We have heard from some of you that there are too many food pantries, and you don't care if we close.

Consider this: We are the only pantry open 5 days a week, every week (instead of one day a month). We helped over 10,000 people last year. 36% of these were children under 17 years of age, and 29% were over the age of 60. We are not a "one size fits all" pantry. We give food according to the size of the family.

If you want us to continue providing food to the families in need in Fannin County, you need to inform organizations you belong to or know. Contact Fannin County and City officials to let them know how important it is to you that we do not close our doors.

As was said at the beginning, this is Your Food Pantry and it is going to require you to assist us in finding a new location. We may be contacted at 903-583-FOOD (3663) Monday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m."

RELATED REPORTS: http://www.kten.com/story/22123781/manufacturing-jobs-coming-to-bonham