The call couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Could Millie Garrison use a semitruck full of food.
Garrison is executive director of Humble Area Assistance Ministries, known regionwide as HAAM. In recent days, her staff had been giving their families double amounts of the food they usually hand out in anticipation of stay-at-home orders and concern about COVID-19.
“We are so blessed,” Garrison recalled. “One of our covenant congregations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had a truck coming from Salt Lake City filled with food items. They wanted to know if we could use it.”
The answer, of course, was yes. Definitely yes. Twenty-six pallets of food filled HAAM’s pantry.
“A skeleton crew is working our mobile food drop,” Garrison said, “delivering ready-to-cook meals for our most needy and vulnerable families. We’re dropping off meals to our covenant congregations to deliver to their most needy and vulnerable parishioners, and to the May Community Center in Huffman.”
Just days ago, HAAM provided basic need services to 1,281 individuals. The numbers continue to rise, Garrison said.
HAAM is providing food packets to families identified through Humble ISD, she added. These deliveries are in addition to the free breakfast and lunch pickups Humble ISD provides their students weekdays at six elementary school locations. Two days of breakfast and lunch can be picked up on Fridays.
Mission Northeast, based in New Caney, is beginning its fifth week of “ … no contact, drive-through food distribution,” according to Pam Dickson, director.
“We have a reduced staff and small core of very dedicated and hardworking volunteers working beautifully and efficiently on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 11,” said Dickson.
Mission Northeast is not accepting clothing donations and there are no client services inside their building at 22098 Loop 494 in New Caney, but they are accepting donations of nonperishable food and hygiene and cleaning supplies.
The Huffman Food Pantry also now operates as a drive-up, according to Director Diane Chen, giving food to people in their vehicles on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon, at First Baptist Church Huffman, 25503 FM 2100 in Huffman. They serve Huffman residents or those whose children attend Huffman ISD. Identification and proof of residence is required.
The Huffman Food Pantry is a ministry of First Baptist, partnering with a number of Huffman churches, United Methodist, West Lake, Community Baptist, Victory and Praise, Lutheran and Atascocita Community churches as well as the Lions Club, Boy Scout Troop 1775 and Catholic Charities in stocking the pantry and providing 40 meals a day, according to Chen.
“We average 100 to 120 families a month and have 500 in our database,” said Chen, “but in times of crises we easily double that number. We’re seeing families who haven’t come to us in more than two years.”
Garrison, Dickson and Chen emphasize their need for financial donations rather than food items. “There are so many guidelines that must be followed when accepting or distributing food and frankly, HAAM has the ability to purchase food at a much lower cost so that we can make a donated dollar go pretty far,” Garrison said.
Also, one of HAAM’s major sources of income, their retail shop, is closed and they couldn’t hold the annual Pillars of the Community banquet, their major and only fundraiser each year.
“With no revenue coming in, we’re relying on the generous donations of our supporters, and with no end in sight, the needs of our families will continue far into the summer and beyond,” said Garrison.
“We are bracing for what we know will be extremely challenging times when we ‘readjust’ to the new normal when our families are recovering from months with minimal or no employment,” said Dickson. “We’re already seeing former clients who were employed returning for assistance because of job loss.”
“Not being able to purchase our inventory in bulk is tough,” said Chen. “We really need a store or organization that allows us to purchase the products we need in cases.”
With a mission of help and hope, HAAM is an interfaith organization helping residents in crisis within northeast Harris and east Montgomery counties. Thirty-three Lake Houston area churches make up HAAM’s Covenant Congregation.
Mission Northeast covers 800 square miles and 11 ZIP codes, providing services free of charge for persons living in poverty.
The Huffman Food Pantry is a community- supported resource located on the First Baptist Church Huffman campus, 25503 FM 2100 in Huffman.
To donate to Humble Area Assistance Ministries, haamministries.org, Mission Northeast, missionne.org, or Huffman Food Pantry, @HuffmanFoodPantry, or for more information about Humble ISD’s free meal pickup, humbleisd.net/meals.