Since 2014, Covenant With Christ has fed families in need in Liberty County from its food pantry at 500 E. Houston Street in Cleveland. Today, the non-profit has additional food pantries in Huntsville and Coldspring, is working on plans to build a food distribution center in the Grand San Jacinto Subdivision south of Plum Grove and is feeding tens of thousands of people monthly through a dozen distribution sites in Liberty, San Jacinto and Walker counties.
Over the last two months, 40,000 people in Liberty County, 10,000 people in San Jacinto County and 5,000 people in Walker County have received food from one of the distribution sites, according to Christine Shippey, who founded the non-profit with her husband, Dwayne.
“We have also delivered groceries to 300 homes. A lot of these people didn’t have transportation or the ability to get to a food site, so we took the food to them,” Shippey said. “A lot of people don’t realize the need in our area. You don’t even want to know about some of the desperate cases we see.”
The non-profit is supported by corporate and private sponsors, and churches, and purchases the food from the Houston Food Bank for pennies on the dollar. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the food has been provided to the food bank for free and in abundance, Shippey said.
“We have been getting large loads – like 20-24 pallets of food at a time. Sometimes we get two to three 18-wheelers a day,” she said. “We’ve been able to give families three big packs of meat, milk, dairy, bread, dry food items and fresh produce. Whatever we have, they get.”
To qualify, applicants have to meet certain income guidelines. People who qualify for food stamps, SSI, Social Security, unemployment compensation benefits or free lunch programs at school will qualify for the program.
“If you have lost your job, you automatically qualify for six months. We know the circumstances of the people who receive the food. I know it is hard for some people to wrap their heads around, but there are a lot of people in need right now,” Shippey said.
The vision for Covenant With Christ isn’t simply to feed the hunger; it’s to fight poverty by changing mindsets and providing opportunities.
“The only way to get people there is by offering health and nutrition initiatives, vocational training, and educational classes including GED, teaching them new skills and doing case management to connect them to services,” Shippey said.
These new initiatives are part of Shippey’s plan once the new distribution center is built in the Grand San Jacinto Subdivision south of Plum Grove. The six-acre site was donated to Covenant With Christ by Colony Ridge Land, LLC, and is located near the new Cottonwood Elementary School. Shippey is looking forward to opening the distribution site in late fall or early winter.
“We are starting construction of the new warehouse next month. By the end of December, we are looking to be finished with the buildings. That’s part of Phase 2 of the project,” Shippey said.
Funding for the distribution center is coming from grants from multiple foundations.
“We are also doing a capital campaign to raise money to help with the cost of the food and the operation. We want the community be involved and it needs to be partially funded by the community,” Shippey said.
At the new site, she will be able to host business groups who are interested in volunteering by preparing food baskets.
“We know we can’t fight poverty with just food. The food just gets them in the door,” Shippey said.
Here are the food distribution sites for the month of July:
- City of Cleveland, held at Stancil Park, 211 Peach Ave., on Saturday, July 18, starting at noon
- City of Dayton, held at the Dayton Community Center, 801 S. Cleveland St., on Tuesday, July 16, starting at noon
- Rainbow Baptist Church, located at the intersection of SH 146 and FM 787 in Rye, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, starting at 8 a.m.
- Liberty High School, located at Jefferson Drive, on Wednesdays (July only), starting at noon
- Hi-Way Tabernacle Church, 108 CR 2250, Tarkington, on Fridays, starting at 10 a.m.
- Daisetta High School on July 21, starting at noon
- Calvary Baptist Church, 65 Petroleum Rd., Coldspring, on July 17 and 31, starting at noon
- Big Creek Cowboy Church, 1391 N. Butch Arthur Rd., Coldspring, on July 18, starting at 10 a.m.
Shippey said the food will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Depending on the turnout, the food may run out at each location after just a couple of hours, so plan accordingly.
The application for aid is quick and takes only a few minutes to complete. For more information on the food programs, call the Covenant With Christ Food Pantry at 281-592-5001.