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Coastal Bend Food Bank celebrates 40 years of giving back

The food bank opened in 1982 and now distributes more than 13 million pounds of food annually to 11 Coastal Bend counties.


The Coastal Bend Food Bank celebrated its 40-year anniversary this week. 

Executive Director Bea Hanson started her role 25 years ago and said they were distributing 179,000 pounds of food at the time. In 2022, she said they are distributing 74 times more than that--more than 13 million pounds.

“We have been able to distribute a lot more food and make sure especially the children and the elderly don’t have to do without," Hanson said.

Hanson said the food bank's growth is possible because of events like the Coastal Bend Day of Giving, which raised $100,000 in funding for them last year.

“Fundraising is very competitive and having a special day where everybody receives assistance is very important," she said.

Frank Gallegos, who has been working at the food bank for 35 years, said he saw a difference as soon as Hanson assumed her role. Hanson said there were about 2.5 million pounds of food distributed in 1997. 25 years later, more than 13.2 million pounds of food are on the tables of those in need. 

“Seeing the growth, seeing the more people coming in and seeing how we can helping more of the community," he said.

Gallegos said he looks forward to the future of the food bank as it expands to a new 108,000 square-foot facility, which saw some of the walls raised for the first time this week.

“That’s what gets me excited," he said. "And just now that we’re going to have this new building, I’m going to stick around a little longer.”

When asked about her biggest takeaway from 25 years of serving meals to the Coastal Bend, Hanson said their willingness to volunteer, donate, and distribute food comes to mind.

“How generous the community is during times where there has been hardships for everybody," she said. "The community comes through.”

It takes about 1.7 million meals yearly to support 97,000 individuals in the Coastal Bend region, according to Hanson. She said some people need more than one meal, stressing the importance of donations ahead of a busy and challenging holiday season.

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