Driven By The Chance To Lend A Helping Hand

Montage of Fanin food pics


Volunteers unload the North Texas Food Bank truck. Cars lined up for miles to get food on April 17.  


Rev. Dana Coker offers first-person account of food-pantry distribution efforts at mobile pantry

I was a part of the design team for Feeding Fannin, an organization that had its first food distribution last April. We took advantage of a North Texas Food Bank program that brings a refrigerated truck full of healthy foods – fruits, vegetables, milk and bread – to help bolster existing NTFB pantries. 

In an area that already has a high poverty rate, we knew that the Coronavirus pandemic would push families on the edge of poverty over the line. So, the leaders of Feeding Fannin worked with the NTFB to distribute emergency food boxes Friday, April 17.

Dana CokerThe rules we were given stated that we had to register families for this distribution. The NTFB would bring only the amount of boxes that had been signed up for. 

We got around 300 families registered in three different Fannin County cities in a very short time. We felt pretty good about that, but we decided to make 30 extra bags of food on our own in case families showed up that weren’t registered.

On that Friday, we encountered a line of cars that stretched for a few miles. Thirty extra bags barely made a dent in the amount of people we encountered who weren’t registered. 

It was devastating to hand them a form for next week and explain that we couldn’t help them today. Some people got really mad. Others just burst into tears. Both reactions from fellow beloved children of God seeped into my heart in a crushing way that I’m still healing from.

There was one particular woman, who was driving a red car, who will stay with me for a very long time. When she started to realize we couldn’t help her that day, you could watch panic rise followed closely by tears. I don’t know why she affected me so deeply. I don’t even know her name, but I pray every day that God would provide for the lady in the red car and everyone like her. God help us! God help us know how to help!

The emergency boxes didn’t have a whole lot in them. They were better than nothing, but I was aware that the people we were able to help needed a whole lot more than we were able to give them.

Our next distribution will be better. The National Guard is coming out to help, and no one has to register. I’m thankful! People are hurting, and we have to figure out a way to help! God help us!

Rev. Dana Coker is senior pastor at First UMC Bonham.

Published: Wednesday, April 29, 2020