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The East Texas Food Bank: Fighting Hunger, Feeding Hope


Written and Photographed by Barbara King

The rafters are piled high with food in the 75,000 square foot warehouse, ready for distribution throughout East Texas to those in need. Since 1988, the East Texas Food Bank has been the crucial conduit for the distribution of donated and purchased food to more than 200 partner agencies located throughout a 26-county service area.

et-food-bank-9The statistics may be staggering to some; the East Texas Food Bank provided 18,500 meals to East Texans in 2015, serving 252,900 clients. As Chief Executive Officer Dennis Cullinane explains, “Families struggle and can face unexpected bills and hardships. We provide a safety net and assist in helping provide fresh, high quality nutritious foods.” Cullinane added that one of the main issues arising in their mission is the intersection of hunger and health. “Families that are struggling to stretch a dollar tend to gravitate towards inexpensive food items that are rich in calories, but poor in nutritional value. These choices can lead to increased health complications such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

The nutritious mix of product lining their shelves comes from a variety of sources including private donations from local and national manufacturers, distributors and grocers, farmers and food drives. The Food Bank works alongside 144 food pantries and 25 soup kitchens or on-site feeding programs.

The food is collected in many shapes and sizes, and a large part of the distribution involves the sorting and packing of anything that arrives in bulk form. On any given day you will see scores of volunteers in the warehouse, sorting, packing, and helping get the orders ready for distribution.

et-food-bank-1Rosann Blood, a longtime volunteer at the East Texas Food Bank for over 20 years, originally came with a church group, but now comes on her own to help make a difference. “I love to volunteer here and knowing it helps someone else be happy and healthy keeps me coming back.” Today she is bagging large quantities of pasta, and she says every time she comes, she helps with another needed project.

Karolyn Davis, Communications Director says, “Our success is built from the support of the East Texas community through a variety of ways such as time, donations, and food. We have over 10,000 volunteers a year come through our doors to help support our mission for a hunger-free East Texas.” All volunteers are accepted as young as the age of six (with some adult supervision.) Volunteers are welcome Monday through Thursday from 8:30am-12 noon, 1-4:30pm and from 5:30-8:30pm. Fridays are reserved for groups, and all requests can be made on the website with an online application at

The Tyler Junior College baseball team of 35 players and 3 coaches recently spent a morning bagging six pallets (40,000 pounds) of rotini pasta for distribution which will feed 33,750 folks in need. Head Baseball Coach Doug Wren said, “The team likes to try to volunteer every January before the season starts. The team learns that life is not all about baseball; it’s a teamwork project that impacts a lot of people in our community in a short amount of time.”

The East Texas Food Bank does so much more to support our community through programs which benefit a wide variety of people. Partnering with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office and the Smith County Agricultural Extension office and the Flint Baptist Church, they operate two gardens on a combined ten acres of land. The Backpack program provides nutritious meals to low-income children who participate in school meal programs but face hunger on the weekends. Thanks to the BackPack program, during the 2014-2015 school year, the East Texas Food Bank provided more than 36,000 meals and nearly 129,000 snacks to needy school age children.

et-food-bank-7The summer food program provides free breakfasts and lunches to children who are at-risk of going hungry over the summer months. The Food Bank also partners with programs such as Meals on Wheels to assist seniors who receive meal assistance during the week, but also need help to avoid going hungry on the weekends. The Senior Servings program helps fill this gap.

The East Texas Food Bank also runs mobile pantries with their fleet of trucks, distributing food to clients in areas where there may not be an existing partner agency.

One of the main priorities of the Food Bank is to “educate and enlighten individuals about healthier, more economical food choices,” said Davis. “It may be surprising to some, but if you go to a grocery store, the exterior of the store with fresh produce and meats is where you should shop; the interior is full of packaged, inexpensive fillers that are not high in nutritional value.” The East Texas Food Bank provides nutrition classes that teach low-income individuals the basics of food budgeting and good eating habits.

As part of their Outreach program, the East Texas Food Bank encourages clients to utilize all resources available to them, such as federal and state nutrition programs, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). “In 2015, we helped more than 2,000 individuals submit SNAP applications,” Davis said.

“Individuals and corporations that make gifts to the East Texas Food Bank can be assured that 95 cents out of every dollar goes directly to programs and services,” explained Davis. “We encourage people to get involved at any level that is comfortable for them, including volunteering on site, hosting a food drive, or giving a donation through our secure website.”

See how you can make a difference in the lives of East Texans, visit the East Texas Food Bank website at, call (903)597-3663, or visit them at

The East Texas Food Bank is located at 3201 Robertson Road in Tyler.




Dinosaurs are Back at Discovery Science Place!


Return of the Dinosaurs This Summer at Discovery Science Place

Discovery Science Place (DSP) is located at 308 N. Broadway Ave., Downtown Tyler. DSP is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1-5pm, and closed on Mondays. Summer Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are Monday-Saturday: 10am-5pm, and Sunday 1-5pm.

Tickets are $8 for adults (ages 13 and up), $6 for children (ages 2-12), $6 per person for seniors (65 and up), $5 per person for active military (must provide ID), and children under 2 are free. For more info call (903)533-8011 or go to

Return of the Dinosaurs, Coming This Summer!

Come walk among the dinosaurs again as DSP’s celebrates its 25th anniversary! Take your picture riding a Triceratops or braving the jaws of a T-Rex. See two Protoceratops guarding their nest or view the long-necked Apatosaurus. View actual fossils along with animatronic models of the “terrible lizards” of long ago.

“Return of the Dinosaurs” is featured in the DSP Annex building next door to the main museum building. Tickets are purchased at the main museum front desk (under the green portico) and exhibit entry is on Broadway under the blue awning.

“Return of the Dinosaurs” is a separately ticketed exhibit. Ticket prices are: $8 for adults ages: 13 and up, and $6 for children ages: 2-12. Current DSP members get in for 1/2 price ($4 and $3). Children under 2 are free.

You can view actual fossils along with animatronic models of the “terrible lizards” of long ago. The exhibit runs June 9th-August 19th.

Summer Camps at Discovery Science Place

8 weeks of camps are planned, from June 11th-August 10th. Each week has a different theme, and campers are divided into two age groups based on school grade: entering 1st-3rd grade, or for students entering 4th-6th grades. Every camper this summer will also be able to tour the exciting summer 2018 traveling exhibit. Camps are from 10am-4pm each day, and extended programming is available from 7:30am-5:30pm.

The cost is $175 per week per camper with a 10% discount for DSP museum members. Cost includes a snack and all camp materials each day, but campers will need to bring a sack lunch. Camps are:

June 11th-15th: Vex Robotics 1

The Discovery Science Place will fill with the sounds of whirling wheels and motors during this robotics camp. They have upgraded to Vex Robotics and are excited to see campers build claw bots and tackle new challenges! This camp is limited to 15 per class.

June 18th-22nd: Make: Create

Curious makers will want to sign up for this camp! During the week children will learn about the design process, then apply those ideas to bridges, buildings, fog cannons and more.

June 25th-29th: Mad Science

If it bubbles, oozes, or pops, campers will give it a try during this camp. Young camper scientists will make slime, rockets, and more. Campers need to be prepared, because science can be messy!

July 9th-13th: 3D Modeling featuring Minecraft

Everyone loves Minecraft, and campers will put that knowledge to good use by transforming their Minecraft designs from the digital space to the real world using 3D printing technology. This camp is capped at 15 students per class.

July 16th-20th: Vex Robotics II

The Discovery Science Place will fill with the sounds of whirling wheels and motors during robotics camp. They have upgraded to a new robotics system, and are excited to see their campers build claw bots and tackle new challenges. This camp is limited to 15 per class.

July 23rd-27th: 3D Modeling featuring Minecraft II

Everyone loves Minecraft, and will put that knowledge to good use by transforming their Minecraft designs from the digital space to the real world using 3D printing technology. This camp is limited to 15 per class.

July 30th-August 3rd: Take Flight/ Make it Move

This exciting week lets campers explore various forms of flight, from airplanes to rockets, as well as learning the basis of movement and flight. Rockets will launch, planes will glide, cars will loop-de-loop, and more.

August 6th-10th: Kitchen Chemistry

No Summer camp at the DSP would be complete without Kitchen Chemistry week. Nearly all the activities done during this week can be replicated at home with parent help. Campers will make slime, learn about cooking with solar power, and create paint using vegetables and spices.

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It’s Going To Be An “INCREDIBLE” Summer at Studio Movie Grill

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Cool Off from the Summer Heat this Month at Studio Movie Grill

Join the fun at Studio Movie Grill (SMG), located at 8954 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler. Tickets are available at the door and at SMG offers box office hits as well as special screenings. These include:

Classics Family Favorites

Relive your favorites on the big screen with these summer family favorites. These start at 7:15pm.

  • June 6th: “Purple Rain”
  • June 13th: “The Wizard of Oz”
  • June 20th: “The Neverending Story”
  • June 27th: The Iron Gate”
  • July 4th: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”

Special Needs Screenings

Family-friendly movies are free for children with special needs and their siblings with adult tickets available for before-noon price. Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered, and children are free to move around, talk, or even dance in the aisles during the movie.

Special Needs Screenings are shown at 11am. Parental guidance is always suggested. The scheduled movies are:

  • June 2nd: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
  • June 23rd: “The Incredibles 2”
  • June 30th: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

Classic Comedies

Relive your favorites on the big screen with our SMG Classics series! Have some laughs this summer with these comedy classics all at 7:15pm.

  • July 11th: “The Hangover”
  • July 18th: “Blazing Saddles”
  • July 25th: “National Lampoon’s Vacation”
  • August 1st: “Risky Business”

Children’s Summer Series

SMG’s Children’s Summer Series offers a budget-friendly entertainment option for families, summer camps, and weekday programs to escape the summer heat to watch $1 screenings of recent, popular, children films.

  • May 28th-June 1st: “Flushed Away”
  • June 4th-8th: “The Book of Life”
  • June 11th-15th: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
  • June 18th-22nd: “Ferdinand”
  • June 25th-29th: “Captain Underpants”
  • July 2nd-6th: “The Boss Baby”
  • July 9th-13th: “Horton Hears a Who”
  • July 16th-20th: “The Peanuts Movie”
  • July 23rd-27th: “The Croods”
  • July 30th-August 3rd: “The Prince of Egypt”
  • August 6th-10th: “Megamind”
  • August 13th-17th: “Puss in Boots”
  • August 20th-24th: “Epic”
  • August 27th-31st: “Flushed Away”

Big Screen Classics

Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Twentieth Century Fox are celebrating the anniversary of several classic movies this summer.

June 10th (6:45pm), 11th and 13th (6:15pm) – “Scarface”

July 15th and 18th (2pm and 7pm) –  “Big”

Watch Party: Jumanji Double Feature

Join the fun and watch this classic movie back to back this summer! See the 1995 “Jumanji”original and then see the 2017 hit.

June 10th (2pm) and 11th (6:30pm)


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Connie Smith in Concert at Liberty Hal June 27th


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Summer concerts are here! Check out all the artists that will be on the Liberty Hall stage in the months of June, July and August.

Then, on Wednesday, June 27 at 7 p.m., we say “goodbye” to the month of June in true Country style. Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith brings her lost loves and heartaches to our stage with classic hits like “Then and Only Then” and “Ain’t Had No Lovin’.”

They get around! On Friday, July 20 at 7 p.m., the charming Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute Band will perform songs that give us all good vibrations! We think it’s the most authentic Beach Boys concert experience you can get without John Stamos.

Then, on Thursday, July 26 at 7 p.m., we welcome the young and talented Mo Pitney. Mo is bringing  back that traditional country sound. His new single, “Country,” will remind you why you fell in love with country music. Pitney brings with him as a special guest the local country artist Jake Penrod.

August is all about Bluegrass! On Friday, August 3 at 7 p.m., the duo Dailey and Vincent bring bluegrass, traditional country and gospel music to our stage. Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, backed by one of the best bands on tour today, are some of the most reputable and elite entertainers in American music. Collectively they have so many Grammys, Dove Awards and IBMA Awards that we cannot fit them in this description.

Next, on Saturday, August 11 at 8 p.m., we give you the Beatles with a twist. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band is back! Just as the Beatles broke the mold of all things rock and roll, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band follows closely with that same spirit of innovation, interpreting songs already loved by millions. The beloved songs are presented with instruments you normally wouldn’t expect to hear and played in a way they are not normally played. The result is a lively sound with fun surprises.

Then, on Thursday, August 16 at 7 p.m., we welcome The Bellamy Brothers. Best-known for the easy rolling, ’70s Southern soft rock classic “Let Your Love Flow,” the Bellamy Brothers are the most successful duo in country music history, consistently climbing into the upper reaches of the Billboard country charts during the ’80s, including “Redneck Girl,” “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me” and “Dancin’ Cowboys.

Next, on Thursday, August 23 at 7 p.m., we have a tribute show like no other. Liberty Hall is proud to welcome Cash and Cline… Country Royalty. A concert that brings together the songs of two of the most influential and legendary artists of all time, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline! Benny Wheels, with his easy-going nature, deep bass-baritone vocals and commanding stage presence, brings back the image and spirit of The Man in Black in his Folsom Prison prime!

On Friday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m., we have a benefit concert on behalf of the Children’s Miracle Network, Amy Holden and Friends with Special Guest Milo Deering. The concert will star Amy Holden and Singer/Songwriters Cole Risner and Meredith Crawford. Joining them will be local East Texas artists The Kirbys and Milo Deering. Milo is a renowned Texas multi-instrumentalist featured on many recordings for national country music artists. Milo most recently toured with The Eagles. Amy recently released her newest single, Best Time, in May 2018 to Texas radio. This event is one the whole family can enjoy!

Let’s not forget about comedy! You can see local improv comedy group Card 53 Comedy make it up entirely on the spot on Saturdays, June 23, July 14 and August 25 at 8 p.m.

Disclaimer: Card 53 strives each show to be what they consider “clean-ish,” however due to the unpredictable nature of improv they risk embarrassing their wives, girlfriends, dogs, employers and total strangers with their unique style of improv makem-ups.

Tickets for all events are available now at Be sure to “Follow” Liberty Hall on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for daily updates. Please be aware some of these shows are public rentals of Liberty Hall and not affiliated with the City of Tyler or Liberty Hall.

Liberty Hall is a department of the City of Tyler. The mission of Liberty Hall is to create exciting art and entertainment experience that will integrate the arts into the downtown’s social, economic and community fabric by providing diverse opportunities for entertainment, through film, theater, comedy and music.


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