Marfa Food Pantry “essentially out of food” after high turnout for food assistance

A graph showing the increasing demand for assistance at the Marfa Food Pantry. Graphic courtesy of Marfa Food Pantry

MARFA — The Marfa Food Pantry is seeing a growing demand for food assistance, and last week the pantry exhausted almost all of its stock in order to meet the high turnout of those looking for some extra help during the pandemic.

The need for food assistance in Marfa has steadily increased during the coronavirus crisis and the Marfa Food Pantry has sought to continually supply food to low-income locals who need help.

Pantry volunteer Elbert Bassham said demand for food at last week’s distribution day was “surprisingly higher than previous distributions.” Last week, 123 people showed up to get food, an all time high this year.

Food handed out during the bimonthly distribution days is usually purchased from the West Texas Food Bank, which serves and supplies a broad area of West Texas food banks. During the distribution in Marfa last week, all 90 boxes of food purchased from the West Texas Food Bank were handed out. Food pantry volunteers had to work quickly to assemble an additional 33 boxes of food from their reserves, in order to cover the 123 clients that came to get food this time around.

While the pantry was able to help all who came, their reserves have been wiped out from the effort. “The Marfa Food Pantry is essentially out of food and needs to build up its reserves for future deliveries,” Bassham said.

Bassham wasn’t sure why the increase in demand was so dramatic, suggesting it could be because it was the distribution before Thanksgiving, or, more worryingly, that it could be a sign that food insecurity in the town is growing.

“The long lines throughout the country, and closer to us in Dallas, Houston and Presidio, may be reflected right here in Marfa, in proportion to Marfa’s population,” he suggested.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, MFP has fine tuned its delivery process to avoid transmission of the disease. Those picking up food stay in their vehicles while volunteers bring out the boxes. Volunteers and recipients wear masks and work to maintain social distancing.

To ask questions, apply for food assistance or find ways to help, call The Marfa Food Pantry at 432-295-1447.