Representatives of several dozen area food distribution programs attended an annual continuing education program Thursday afternoon led by the Food Bank of West Central Texas located in Abilene.

“It’s an opportunity for operators of food banks to keep abreast of changes in the USDA program and to reward and recognize some of them for their efforts,” Glenn Byers, director of programs and agency relations with the regional food bank, said. “They also hear an overview of the year and refresh themselves on procedures they already know.”

The program, held at the downtown Brownwood facility of Good Samaritan Ministries, lasted about three hours.

Jody Houston, executive director, led the program, which is one of two being conducted this month in the food bank’s 13-county area. The other will be held in Abilene next week, Byers said.

The food bank distributed over 3.1 million pounds of food to pantries in its area last year, Byers said, and also offers provisions for emergency pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school children’s programs and foster caregivers.

Four “model” programs were recognized with certificates on Thursday — MHMR Center for Life Resources, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Hope for Tomorrow and Good Samaritan Ministries. Byers said they were honored for their level of professionalism, meeting net and exceeding net expectations and staff cooperation.