WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A passion to help others, this spirit of giving is what led to the creation of the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank 40 years ago.

“The food bank started in 1982 as a group of individuals and organizations that were involved in food procurement came together to make it a little easier on themselves,” WFAFB Marketing Director Simon Welch said.

Welch has worked for the food bank for two years and his passion for his work stems from a deeper and more personal experience.

“Well, when I was a child we had to utilize food pantries. I was a child of a single mother and I had two sisters so to be able to work in a place that helped my family and helped me get through school and help my mom kind of relieve the stress. She had three jobs to kind of relieve the stress of her day-to-day to make sure we were fed is just amazing,” Welch said.

A feeling of relief that is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented time.

“We’ve been told by Feeding America to expect the fall out from COVID for at least 10 years. So we know that people in our community are going to need it so we are going to have to work to expand to make sure we can meet the need because we serve Wichita County but we also serve 11 other counties,” WFAFB CEO Kara Nickens said.

An effort that could be more difficult to accomplish.

Nickens says since 1993, the amount of food distributed has gone from 1.4 million to 4.4 million pounds, a 3 million pound increase in less than 30 years.

“I think we are just scratching the surface on the need that’s in our 12 counties because of our limitations on warehouse space and on being able to have more vehicles and staff so if we can expand, have the larger facility and be able to have the fleet and the staff, we’ll be able to get out in those counties. And, I think the amount of food we distribute will be much, much more than it is now,” Nickens said.

Despite the obstacles the food bank faces, Nickens says it won’t interfere with its mission in the long run.

“The food bank is very resilient we’re going to adjust and do what our community needs us to do. That’s because of the heart of our staff that we have here. Everybody has a heart for what they do. Our board has a heart for what they do and we just want to make sure that no one goes without food,” Nickens said.

Nickens says she hopes to celebrate these last forty years with the community later this year if the status of the pandemic allows them to do so.

She also says the best way for community members to mark this milestone is to volunteer or donate to its cause.

Click here to donate or volunteer.