The Overton-New London food pantry serves the residents of West Rusk ISD, Chapel ISD and Overton ISD, providing an essential service to the small community.
Services are offered at the pantry on the third Wednesday of every month, from 10 a.m. to noon at the New London Methodist church at S. 10525 Main St. in Overton.
Carol Gibbs has been volunteering with the pantry for around four years, the majority of the five years that the pantry has been operational.
“When COVID started, we were serving about 50 families a month, now we are serving closer to 90,” Gibbs said, explaining that the outbreak has caused a rise in need in the local community.
Thanks to a wide range of community support, the pantry has been able to meet this new demand, going above and beyond to secure resources for those in need.
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, Gibbs said that the pantry has been operating as a drive-thru and that they plan to continue operating that way in the future.
“People seem to like the drive-thru better,” Gibbs said. “It's faster, and we have less concern about people having to stand outside in the heat or the cold.”
Proof of residency is all that is required for people to receive help, with the pantry opting to put paperwork on hold for the last year to protect everyone from the virus outbreak.
“We haven’t been doing paperwork, but we have still been offering all of the services that people need,” she said.
Though they plan to reinstate paperwork in the near future, Gibbs said that community members only need to provide proof of residency within the counties served and are not required to show any type of income information or other type of paperwork.
A group of around 10 volunteers work to operate the pantry, organizing donations, purchasing goods with donated money and even running groceries to and from cars on pick-up day.
“We have such an amazing group of volunteers,” Gibbs said. “They are an amazing group of people, and they are always willing to step up to do whatever needs to be done.”
She said that through the work of volunteers, and the support of a number of local organizations, the pantry has been able to not only provide food for those in need, but to provide options for community members.
“We try to make sure we have things switched up,” Gibbs said. “Every month we try to provide different types of meat or produce so that they aren’t just getting the same thing every month.”
She said that local churches provide money and food for the groceries, along with the Billy Moore Correctional Center, which works to hold food and supplies drives to support the pantry.
Additionally, Gibbs said that Brookshires and Kroger in Overton have worked with the pantry to order large cases of items that they have on sale, to support the food pantry’s efforts.
“All I had to do was call up and ask, and they were very willing to work with us and help us out,” Gibbs said.
The food pantry is not currently looking for any more volunteers, but is always interested in support from the community through monetary donations and donations of food.
Gibbs said that community members interested in supporting the work the food pantry does can send donations to P.O. Box 93, Overton, TX, 75684, or contact Gibbs at (903) 360-3389 for more information or to set up a drop off.