Canned goods

Crisis Bread Basket provides food to Wimberley residents

Wimberley, Texas is often known as “A Little Bit of Heaven.” But while residents love the town’s landscape, vibe, and people, living there doesn’t mean an idyllic life for all. It does mean, though, that when someone is facing tough times, neighbors are there to lend a hand.

Crisis Bread Basket offers that helping hand to Wimberley residents facing food insecurity, or the inability to obtain affordable and nutritious food. It is essentially a food bank but without ties to—or the restrictions of—government agencies. Board president Jennifer Scharlach explains, “We are 100% volunteer run. That means close to 100% of donations go to helping people. Our goal is to fight hunger. For 30 years, it’s been about neighbors helping neighbors.”

Growing up in Wimberley, Jennifer learned about giving from her family. “I got involved to honor my past and help Wimberley in any way I can because I feel like it helped raise me,” she says. She now regularly takes her daughter to shop for food donations to teach her responsibility to community.

Crisis Bread Basket

Photo by Austin Skinner

Community partners—such as Ozona Bank, Brookshire Brothers, H-E-B, schools, and local churches—are instrumental in helping Crisis Bread Basket feed those in need, a need people sometimes forget in a generally affluent town. The reality is that there are folks in every town who occasionally or regularly struggle to afford groceries. In years past, Crisis Bread Basket has fed more than 80 families in an average week, but volunteers have been seeing an increase.

People sometimes have weeks when they must choose between paying for medication, for instance, and paying for food. “It can be a hard pill to swallow when you’re in that situation,” Jennifer acknowledges–no pun intended. “One thing that’s really important to us is that people have their dignity as they walk in and out. People who volunteer here love what they do, and they’re here to give hugs as much as they are to give food.”

Melissa Maceo, volunteer coordinator and pantry chair, became involved after the 2015 flood, inspired by how residents dropped everything to help their neighbors. “It’s amazing what our volunteers do,” she says. “Many of these families are in dire straits. I don’t know what they would do without us.”

Melissa is happy with many of the changes they’ve made at Crisis Bread Basket. “We used to have pre-bagged food, but now everything is a choice for the people. We’ve gone healthier, too,” she explains. They now make an effort to carry at least as many fresh fruits and vegetables as packaged cereals and processed foods.

Sorting goods at Crisis Bread Basket

Photo by Jennifer Scharlach

Because Crisis Bread Basket is independent, clients are not burdened with a lot of paperwork and red tape. The distribution center is a friendly, respectful atmosphere facilitated by dedicated volunteers. Many volunteers go above and beyond, taking folks to doctors’ appointments or delivering food. And many former clients have returned to volunteer and pay it forward.

With the holidays approaching, people are especially generous and eager to help. It’s a great time to donate—Ozona Bank holds an annual turkey drive for Crisis Bread Basket so that the pantry can provide turkey dinners to those who might otherwise go without. “People can give with time, talent, or treasure,” says Jennifer. “We need help identifying clients as well as volunteers who can advocate for us in the community.”

Crisis Bread Basket treasurer John Myers, one such advocate and volunteer, loves working in the distribution center and witnessing kindness and gratitude in action. “When I’m here seeing the joy on the faces as people get their food, it warms my heart,” he says.

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