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Texas Freshwater Fisheries’ Annual Food Drive Returns

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Athens Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center | Image by Athens Daily Review

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The annual “Ethelsgiving Feed the Hungry, Feed the Fish” food drive is back for the month of November. 

Henderson County Food Pantry and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) collect nonperishable food and other items for community members who benefit from the pantry. This tradition first started in 2020, according to a press release from Texas Parks and Wildlife. 

The drive started on November 1 and is being held through the Athens TFFC facility this year. 

The event was named to commemorate the first ShareLunker “Ethel,” which weighed in at over 17 pounds. Dubbed “ShareLunkers” after a Toyota sponsorship, the name refers to largemouth bass that weighs 13 pounds or more. Ethel was caught in November 1986. 

Tom Lang, the TFFC director, said this annual food drive also highlights the impact recreational hunting and fishing can have on communities. 

“The ‘Ethelsgiving Feed the Hungry, Feed the Fish’ campaign is also a reminder of how important recreational fishing and hunting can be for families struggling with food insecurity,” Lang shared in the press release. “We’re proud to be able to help Texans by providing inexpensive family-friendly recreational opportunities, teaching fishing skills, and helping acquire donations for the food pantry.”

Those who donate food items this month will be given a cup of fish food for free in order to feed the fish at the TFFC facility. Other nonperishable items, such as paper towels and diapers, are also being accepted. 

The Athens facility holds the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, a fish hatchery, and 300,000 gallons of aquaria focusing on underwater wildlife in the state, according to the press release. The Texas Game Warden Museum is also housed at the facility. 

Lang shared that the food drive was inspired as a way to celebrate the day that Ethel was caught. 

“We wanted to do something for the anniversary of the day Ethel was caught. Her catch date falls during the Thanksgiving season, so we decided in the spirit of the season of giving and sharing great bass genetics, we would hold a food drive in Ethel’s name to continue the act of serving our community,” Lang said in the press release. 

The Henderson County Food Pantry is the oldest food pantry in Henderson County and is completely run by volunteers. It was established in 1981, the food pantry website shares, and evolved from the Department of Human Services. 

“The Food Pantry is sustained by generous donations of food and money from citizens of Henderson County and two very supportive foundations, the Cain Foundation and the Ginger Murchison Foundation,” the website states.

“All money is used to buy food, pay for maintenance, utilities, and office supplies. Approximately 250 to 300 families a month are helped. Many come from as far away as Mabank and Chandler.”

The center operates from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.

For additional information about TFFC and to plan your visit, check out the TFFC website and Facebook page.

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