Character Counts – Taressa Adams

Photo by Jenice Johnson.

This article was originally posted in Kaufman County Life's Winter 2014 edition. 

 

Taressa Adams is one person who looked forward to retirement so she could volunteer in her community fulltime.

The Forney Food Pantry has been around since 1992 and for the last 10 years Adams has been the pantry’s director. She always wanted to volunteer there, prayed for it, and remembers a time when she knew what it felt like to be hungry. Because of the economic downturn, most of the people the pantry feeds are those who are working and have fixed income but make too much money for food stamps.

“The need here keeps me going. I feel honored that I’m actually allowed to run the pantry,” she said. “I believe everyone should give back to their community. There should be no one left hungry.”

Forney Food Pantry was once located in a 600 square-foot space in the old Forney City Jail in downtown Forney. The pantry moved in June 2011 to its current 5,000 square-foot location in a warehouse donated by Sealy & Company in Mustang Business Park North.

The need has increased every year since the pantry’s inception and the larger space was necessary. According to their statistics, the pantry continues to serve the Forney and Crandall, Texas, communities at an average of 189 families a month — an increase of nearly 50% from 2012.

The pantry fed 5,816 people in 2012 but by last year the number jumped to 7,348. The majority of these numbers represent children. Every year Forney ISD conducts a food drive before the holidays to benefit the pantry and the Air Force Junior ROTC students help deliver the food items.

“The first year we did this in 2012, donations at the pantry skyrocketed. Out of over 5,000 people the pantry fed, 3,000 of them were kids under 18 years old. We are still indirectly supporting our kids this way and families as well,” Larry Coker, Forney ISD public information officer, said. “Those are pretty shocking numbers to me to think about that many kids in need of food assistance.”

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Forney Food Pantry relies on donations from United Way as well as local churches, businesses, community organizations and individual donors. Forney Food Pantry is not like other pantries or food banks because it is solely ran by volunteers, including Adams. Although the location is open one day a week on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., she is there every day checking on the building.

But Adams needs more volunteers.
Although she said she currently has several workers, the numbers are not as many as she’d like and hopes to have more soon. She always finds something for volunteers to do that fit their personality — some may prefer to work in the background, away from the more social aspects of the work or some may choose to interact with the public.

“The hard part is finding more good volunteers. We are getting ready to get a lot of food donations. If they [volunteers] come up here and work, they will get toned,” she said with a laugh. “I always tell people who say they need to join a gym to come here — they will get a workout!”

In addition to helping out at the pantry, the community can get involved by donating items directly to the pantry during business hours or the after-hours drop box. Monetary
donations can be made through the website
forneyfoodpantry.org. Every dollar donated equals approximately eight meals. The pantry pays a handling fee at North Texas Food Bank, which is exponentially cheaper than retail costs, Adams said.

Luckily, this time of year is when people tend to give the most. Brookshires and Kroger are donating several holiday items. The pantry has a few freezers to store fresh meat items but with the addition of a new walk-in freezer — which United Way donated the money to purchase — Adams is looking forward to even more fresh food contributions. Not only that, the City of Forney provided the money to purchase a new refrigerated truck, which will make donation pick-ups easier.

All of the hard work pays off in the environment it creates. Adams said she always enjoys seeing people leave happy.

“Especially those who have never been here before,” she continued. “We are here to help and make people feel welcome.”

 

For More information:

Forney Food Pantry
We are currently in need of blankets and coats for the upcoming winter months.

Hours of operation:
Every Wednesday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Website: forneyfoodpantry.org

Contacts:
Director: Taressa Adams
Phone: 972-552-2011
Email: ForneyFoodPantry@gmail.com

Location:
222 Industrial Way
Forney, Texas 75126

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 2343
Forney, Texas 75126