More Than Enough Ministries serves people throughout Cherokee County who are food insecure, assisting approximately 120-160 families each month. The weekly food distribution takes place from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. each Thursday, except the third Thursday of the month when distribution is set for 4 to 6:30 p.m.
The food assistance program coordinated by Sheneigne Cummings, actually began as her school project in 2010. Attending a Bible school, she was required to develop a ministry as part of her second year internship.
Her project was delivering food once a month to 30 families, with the same volunteers delivering to the same families. The volunteers would get to know the people they served and even pray with them.
“They needed the food, but it was more about relationship because that’s how you witness,” Cummings said.
She discovered, however, that the need was greater than she anticipated.
Cherokee County, along with the southern counties within the East Texas Food Bank’s service area, are among those listed as most food insecure, according to Cummings.
“We started growing beyond our volunteer base,” she said.
When the need grew beyond the ability of the volunteers to deliver food to all the clients, the program shifted to using a base at the River of Life Christian Center in Rusk. In the beginning, boxes were pre-filled and handed out one Thursday night a month.
Now, the More Than Enough Food Pantry remains open one Thursday evening each month, but is open every other Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. for distribution.
“Over these last 11 years, we’ve grown,” Cummings said.
Those relationships have also grown over time.
“Some of our people have been coming since 2010. They know us very well and we know their names, their kid’s names, we know their needs. They’ll call us and ask us for prayer,” she said. “So it’s good.”
Cummings admitted the numbers are currently down a bit but believes that may be attributed to government assistance that has gone out during the pandemic.
“We don’t have the resource, the funding and the room as Good Samaritan does,” Cummings said, mentioning another food pantry operation in Rusk. “I know they’ll always do more, but it’s not about that for me. It’s about helping whoever comes that door, whoever wants help. What I’ve been concentrating on through this pandemic is buying in such a way that we can give out more food. We’ve gotten a couple of grants from the food bank in the last year and that’s helped a lot. We just put in a couple of new freezers and that’s helped a lot. My goal is to send them out of here with a week’s worth of food for their family.”
While the Good Samaritan serves those within the Rusk school district twice a month, More Than Enough assists anyone in Cherokee County and holds distribution days weekly. Cummings said many clients come from Alto and some from Jacksonville. Approximately 30% of the clientele are elderly, Cummings reported.
Today, those who come to More Than Enough can choose their own food products from what is available. A form is prepared each week listing the food items available and clients check off the ones they want. Volunteers then fill boxes with the client’s individual choices and then load the boxes into the vehicle.
Cummings believes by allowing clients to decide on food items gives them some dignity and prevents the waste of items clients don’t need or want.
“Now that we’ve gone choice, I don’t want to ever go back because it’s empowered them,” Cummings said.
The organization also has a clothes closet, which consists of several rooms of clothing divided into men’s, women’s and children’s items. When there is a volunteer available to run the clothes closet, clients are allowed to choose items they need as their food boxes are being prepared. Currently, the ministry is in need of a volunteer to be able to open the clothes closet for clients.
The greatest need currently is that of a pick-up truck and trailer. Due to their location and that of utility lines, the East Texas Food Bank cannot deliver the food directly to River of Life. The ministry volunteers use borrowed trailers to meet the refrigerated semi truck at another location in Rusk and transport the pallets of food themselves to the church.
More Than Enough has a monthly budget of approximately $1,100 a month. The ministry is supported financially by River of Life, which provides half the budget, another church in Rusk and random donations that are sent in on occasion.
There are talks of expanding the More Than Enough ministries, Cummings reported.
She hopes to provide toiletry items in the near future. Cummings said there were three computers that she would like to use for educating people on things such as filling out resumes or one-on-one tutoring.
In addition, she looks forward to developing classes on nutrition and meal preparation.
The More Than Enough food pantry is based in the River of Life Christian Center, 677 S. Dickinson Dr., in Rusk. Their phone number is 903-683-3132.
For more information, visit the ministry's Facebook page More Than Enough Food Pantry, or their website, www.loc8nearme.com/texas/rusk/more-than-enough-food-pantry/6381369/.