Reflections -Summer Lunch and Summer Heat - Gearing up for 2012

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – The North Texas heat wave is devastating local food pantries and food banks. Soaring temperatures have increased electricity costs for businesses and residents, resulting in fewer donations for charities. Through the years Minnie’s Food Pantry, at 3198 West Parker Road in Plano, has been a constant source of support for low-income residents. But now the pantry is in need of support. President Cheryl Jackson says the pantry has been feeding an alarming high number of people. “It’s really frightening,” she said. “Last week we fed over 500 people, which is almost triple the number of people [we usually do].” The flood of people seeking assistance has overwhelmed Minnie’s and literally left the cupboards almost empty. “Our pantry has never, ever experienced this before,” explained Jackson. “We have over a hundred bare shelves right now and it is frightening because we’re experiencing what the consumers are experiencing. My electricity bill has tripled, trying to keep this place going.” Jackson says more and more people are looking for help as a result of the economy and trickle down effects of the North Texas heat. “They’re [the hungry] telling me they’re having to choose between paying their electric bill or buying food and I mean, the one word that I’m hearing over and over again is ‘help’.” While it seems more people than ever are in need of help donations to Minnie’s, public and private, are down drastically. “Things are tight right now, so the people who would do the food drives for us are no longer doing them,” said Jackson. “And when I call the North Texas Food Bank, ya know, they’re experiencing what I’m experiencing; trying to get food to everybody. It is difficult.” The situation at Minnie’s is so dire that the charity is considering shuttering the doors. “I’m gonna have to make a decision to either close it down in the next two weeks, until we can restock the shelves, or just give out one… I mean can you imagine me giving a person a can of peanut butter and jelly and tell them that this is all that we have.” According to workers at the pantry a minimal monetary donation can have a maximum impact. “Twenty-five dollars — that provides a hundred meals and it helps us keep this place going. That’s my passion and my dream is to feed the hungry. That’s all,” Jackson said tearing up. Minnie’s Food Pantry is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so any donation made to them is tax deductible.

Minnie's Food Pantry featured in the Plano Profile | Where Plano Clicks

VIEW SLIDESHOW OF GRAND OPENING PHOTOS When Cheryl Jackson opened Minnie’s Food Pantry on the west side of Plano three years ago, people were surprised at her location choice. But more surprising is how quickly the need outgrew the space. Last month, on April 1, supporters and friends celebrated the opening of the new, larger pantry located at Independence and Parker roads, near Half Price Books. Appropriately, blue skies were overhead the day of the ribbon-cutting as guests and her mother Minnie Ewing, the pantry namesake, entered by way of red carpet. View a Slideshow Inspirational quotes printed on the glass exterior walls about kindness and humanity speak to the heart of the pantry’s mission: feeding people, body and soul. Mother Teresa’s words are simple. “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.” This became their motto. Inside, racks are filled with products, many name-brand. Thanks to a $40,000 donation by Bill and Kasey Hollon (see page 40), Minnie’s Food Pantry can also offer fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and poultry provided on a regular basis by Market Street grocery store. There are even small shopping carts. It’s important to Cheryl that shoppers select food their families will enjoy, just like at a grocery store, rather than be handed boxes of food they may or may not use. Last year, according to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB), Minnie’s Food Pantry served 31,510 people making it the number-one outlet for NTFB in Collin County. Eligibility to receive free or reduced-cost food is determined by federal guidelines which base a person’s need on their income. The food pantry is designed to provide one food order per household every two weeks. Cheryl is grateful for the support of so many area businesses, churches and individuals. It is a constant challenge for her and the board to keep the doors open and food on the shelves, but she finds the inspiration to continue every day. “I am inspired by the look in a mother’s eyes, and there is a sense of appreciation and gratitude that they express that money can’t buy,” she says. “I’m inspired when I hand a child one of Minnie’s Food Pantry healthy kids snack bags and they hug it like it was a million dollars. I am inspired when I see tears of gratitude flow down the faces of someone that can’t afford something as simple as their next meal. I continue because I strongly believe that no child in this world should go to bed hungry, especially in the beautiful city of Plano.”


Lunch for today

Minnie's Food Pantry delivered 113 lunch sacks to men and women at the Day Labor workers center in Plano. Imagine if you had to put your name on a list and hope that it was called to receive a job for the day. These individuals can't leave the facility because they would lose their opportunity to obtain a job. Now imagine a truck pulling and selling food to you at a rate of 6-10.00 each meal. Minnie's Food Pantry program called "Our Daily Bread" now delivers sack lunches to the people who are hoping, wishing a praying for a job and can't afford a lunch meal. We are on track to deliver almost 10,000 lunches this year. Thank you for your support. Cheryl Jackson President


A Picture Perfect Thanksgiving

PLANO, Texas - In August, when Fox 4 visited Minnie's Food Pantry in West Plano, the shelves were bare. Today they are full of food and volunteers are packing Thanksgiving meals for needy families. All thanks to a painting by artist Richard Nunez of Minnie Ewing and her daughter, Cheryl Jackson. "My mom holding me when I was 18-months-old, right mom?" asked Jackson. Jackson started the food pantry and named it after Minnie because of how much her mother struggled years ago just to eat. "I used to cry because I was so hungry and my brother would say, 'Dont cry because someday we'll have enough to eat,' " said Minnie. Recently they've struggled to provide food for the people who came in to the pantry. But last Friday, the painting was auctioned off. "Someone said one thousand, three thousand, I was like wow . . . ten thousand . . . 21 thousand...I was like, wahooo!" said Jackson.

The $21,000 was enough for Thanksgiving meals for 900 people, but 1200 showed up. Cheryl didn't want to turn anyone away so she found a way. She started texting and calling, and while we interviewing her, a text came in. "I just got another what? OMG, I just got $2,000 from Nissan of McKinney and Texas Nissan and Texas Toyota. And Bill Atkins is giving another $2,300," she said, jumping up and down and hugging her mom.

$4,200 - enough to buy 300 more turkeys. Latoya Holley has three kids. "It's a struggle, a big struggle," Holley said. She was able to get a complete turkey dinner for Thanksgiving from Minnie's Food Pantry. Her daughter even got a goodie bag.

Cheryl Jackson says she'll have to come up with something else to auction off to provide Christmas meals next month. But for now, she's just happy 1,200 people will have something to be thankful for.