“If it wasn’t for WestAid, we probably wouldn’t have access to any food or resources. My main concern is for [my daughter]... She wakes up in the morning and sometimes we don’t have any food in the house, so coming to WestAid, I know they’ll provide. They really go out of the way to be kind and to be helpful and to make you feel like part of the family and community. They just sincerely want to help you,” said Norma, a Fort Worth resident.
Norma and her daughter are one of more than 250 families that receive food from WestAid, a food distribution program in West Fort Worth. For more than 35 years, WestAid has been a source of food security for struggling families in the area. It is also a recipient of the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering.
“The mission of the Hunger Offering is to unite the body of Christ and to promote holistic transformation in the name of Jesus Christ. For over 30 years, WestAid has represented the heart and mission of the Hunger Offering as they serve the people of Tarrant County,” Katie Fruge, associate director of the Christian Life Commission, explained. “We are thankful for WestAid’s commitment to being the hands and feet of Jesus in their community and proud to call them co-workers as we strive to fulfill the Great Commission and Great Commandment in neighborhoods across Texas and the world.”
Norma and her daughter first began coming to WestAid because it was the nearest food distribution center in their area.
“I don’t always have money for gas, and this is the closest place,” Norma said. “And they were very helpful. They’re very kind and they helped me get clothes for my little one, even though this is a food pantry, they helped me get clothes and shoes for her.”
WestAid Executive Director William Pherigo explained that their slogan is “more than just food,” because even though their main function is food distribution, the staff and volunteers assist the people they serve in any way they can, whether it is through taking up a collection at their local church or directing people to other resources and services.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused WestAid to make adjustments, the purpose of the ministry still remains the same.
“We know that we need to continue to serve people. We know that a few months from now when things continue to become a ‘new normal,’ there will still be people that do not have extra resources, they will still be having a hard time putting food on the table and paying bills,” Pherigo said.
The funds that the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering provides allows WestAid to focus on specialty foods for families, adjusting what they serve to the needs of the community. Ground beef, for example, is a great food because it goes with nearly every meal, but it can be expensive and hard to find in low-income areas, Pherigo explained. The Offering also helps fund operational expenses.
“We are so happy to be a part of the Hunger Offering,” Pherigo said. “It is not only something that helps us financially, but it is also helpful to be a part of that group and have that credibility and that commonality of being part of a group that is helping with food security not only around Texas, but globally.”
The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering disperses funds through partners to over 100 hunger relief and development ministries across Texas and around the world. Though its reach is widespread, the heart of the Offering is about the stories of individuals, like Norma, who feel its effects personally through the ministries it supports.
“If it wasn’t for WestAid, we’d probably not have any food or any resources,” she said. “They just genuinely want to help.”
For more information about the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and the ministries it supports, visit hungeroffering.com.