Entergy, 4H Club donate almost 10,000 meals to Southeast Texas Food Bank

Dan Maher, executive director of the Southeast Texas Food Bank, and Donald Stagg

The Southeast Texas Food Bank received donations from Entergy and the 4H Club on Saturday, Oct. 8. Entergy employees donated 2,500 pounds and $1,000, and 4H members donated 2,300 pounds of food and $700. 

Both groups gather in front of local retailers like HEB, Market Basket, and Kroger from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to solicit donations. These are “places where they know people are going to have food and maybe be appealed to offer some of it for the hungry,” explained Dan Maher, executive director. 

“We use this food to kick off our fall food drives,” Maher added. “This is the first of a big series of Share Your Christmas drives that we hold from October to early December to highlight that in the community’s consciousness of hunger during the holiday season.” 

The volunteers usually fan out to about eight different locations. Ten to 12 volunteers were Entergy employees, and 18 to 20 youth volunteers came from the 4H Club, according to Maher.

Maher said these events also “engage their employees; they always challenge their staff to get out and be the face of Entergy and the community.” 

The 4H Club’s volunteering is part of an event called One Day, a regional attempt to involve youth in a day of service. 

“They’ve adopted a food drive as a very fun, tangible thing for their young people to engage in,” Maher said. 

Maher believes the food gathering helps the children to learn empathy for those less fortunate.

“I think today was a very tangible way for them to see the food piled up and sense the impact that they’ve had,” he said. “They’re at separate locations, so they see their little pot of food that they’re collecting, or they see the funds that they’re collecting, but when they bring it all back together and merge it up, they really get a sense of how they’ve impacted on a broad scale.” 

The Southeast Texas Food Bank calculates the impact of these donations by leveraging volunteerism and donated product. Maher estimates that each dollar equates to three meals, so “funding is just as important as getting food.” 

“Entergy had an impact of roughly 5,400 meals from what they did today,” Maher said. “The 4H Club’s impact was 4,300 to 4,400 meals. It’s very tangible to think that’s what one day brought, and that’s probably the message I would want the community to get is really just a few hours and you can have that tremendous kind of impact if you work together and organize a food drive.”

The Southeast Texas Food Bank will also be holding an International Food Day event on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. – noon, primarily for Lamar University Students and those “whose economic condition makes them vulnerable to poor nutrition,” according to a statement. The purpose of International Food Day, according to the press release, is to offer nutritional education and information about the benefits of physical activity as well as food tasting and tickets for fresh produce available on site. 

“Hunger is an issue that goes well beyond the holidays, but people tend to be more conscious of it during the holiday season and want to do things like food drives and fundraisers,” Maher said.

Eleanor Skelton can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 222, or by e-mail at eleanor [at] theexaminer [dot] com.