Battling food insecurity among Texas veterans and their families

FOODCOVER
Nurses Venus Sanders and Fran Hodgkins, of the Houston VA Mental Health Intensive Case Management program, register veterans and their families at a mobile food pantry held on the third Wednesday of each month outside the Texas City VA Clinic. Photo credit Department of Veterans Affairs

A non-profit is battling food insecurity among Texas veterans and their families.

The non-profit Combined Arms and Galveston County Food Bank set up a mobile food pantry outside the Texas City VA Clinic on the third Wednesday of each month to distribute free groceries to veterans and their families.

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Nurses Venus Sanders and Fran Hodgkins, of the Houston VA Mental Health Intensive Case Management program, play an important role in the food pantry by registering veterans and their families in the parking lot.

“A woman whose son is on our caseload cried because she didn’t know how they were going to make it,” said Hodgkins in a VA news release. “She was down to hot dogs. We also delivered milk to a lady who was so thankful because she was drinking powdered milk. People are food insecure. We want to give them groceries.”

Each month, they help serve more than 200 veterans.

“Fran and I are out there with iPads checking people in,” said Sanders. “We’ve gotten to know the veterans. This summer it was so hot and the veterans in the cars were worried about us. They enjoy seeing us and we enjoy seeing them.”

The food pantry operates two weeks prior to the first of the month, a time when many families are dependent on social security or VA disability. The groceries serve as an important bridge between disability payments.

“Good nutrition is really key to having healthy communities,” said Hodgkins. “You can’t sleep when you’re hungry. You can’t get better when you’re hungry. We want our veterans and their families to be able to have food.”

After each event, Sanders and Hodgkins load up boxes full of groceries and deliver them to six veterans in the program who suffer from severe mental illness.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Department of Veterans Affairs