Local

New food bank in Richmond seeking volunteers

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The tough economy has more families asking for help when it comes to food. The Galveston-Houston archdiocese has a new food bank in Richmond that's setting a new standard when it comes to assisting people who need it. But it also needs help as well.

The community center is one like most of us have never seen. But it's brought to life, in part by volunteers; volunteers who are not keeping up with demand.

It looks like a regular grocery store check out, but it's actually one of the most forward-thinking food pantries in the state, if not the country. It's designed to promote education and dignity.

"So this really helps you out?" we asked pantry client Humberto Perez.

"Oh yes, from a 1 to 10, I put it at 15," he said.

The Mamie George Community Center in Richmond opened 18 months ago. It's considered a dignified approach, allowing clients to come in and shop for the things they want instead of receiving a prepackaged box of goods.

Clients are also counseled on food nutrition before shopping.

"When I went to see my doctor, I had lost a lot of weight and that was attributed to being here and being able to get fruits and vegetables here," pantry client Jeanette Washington said.

They must also manage their monthly supplemental food, provided by the center.

"A lot of them are dealing with a financial crisis, don't know how they are going to pay their bills as far as housing needs rent or utilities so we do offer limited financial assistance," Mamie George Community Center Director Ernest Lewis III said.

And providing this type of service is truly a community effort. Most of the staff at the centers pantry, or cafeteria, even the arts and crafts room are volunteers, volunteers that are in demand.

"The need is growing because the actual services and programs that we offer continue to grow. And we operate the center with 80 to 90 of the individuals that come here to the building are helping us by volunteering," said Patricia Garmon, volunteer manager at the Mamie George Community Center.

It's a concepts that is creating dialogue around the country and bringing a new approach to food insecurity.

"So when I can come and shop and get things that I need, it's a miracle," Washington said.

The Mamie George Community Center also receives food from the Houston Food Bank and Fiesta.

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richmond, local, erik barajas
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