Texas food bank experiences extremely high demand


(CNN) - The struggle for millions of Americans to put food on the table is very real. A clear example: Some Texans lined up at a food bank in Dallas before sunrise on Tuesday to get essentials.

In the middle of the night, a fleet of trucks carrying more than 10,000 boxes of food arrived in a desolate Dallas parking lot. Valerie Hawthorne of the North Texas Food Bank is making sure all crates are perfectly lined up.

The last time the North Texas Food Bank sponsored a drive-through food giveaway was in May, and Hawthorne knows that life has only become more desperate for millions of people struggling through the pandemic.

A long line of cars is seen at a food distribution point set up by the North Texas Food Bank.
A long line of cars is seen at a food distribution point set up by the North Texas Food Bank. (Source: CNN)

“These distributions truly reveal what the need is and how many of our community members are just one paycheck away from hunger. So we have to be out there to support them during this time,” she said.

First people in line were Pauletta Johnson and Arthur Ferrazas, who arrived three hours before the food giveaway even started.

Johnson is on a fixed-income and cares for her grandchildren. Ferrazas is a handyman who says work has dried up in recent months.

“It helps feed the grandkids, when they’re here, when they over and it just, it just means a lot,” Johnson said. “I don’t really have the money. I’m on a fixed income, and I don’t have the money to buy some of the things that I need to get. So that’s why I’m here this morning.”

“It means a lot. It’s a little bit of help. I think it’s going to help us a lot. I got two kids at the house. My wife is kind of just sick right now, but not with the virus. So that’s why I’m here,” Ferrazas said.

At this food delivery event, about 100 volunteers will distribute more than 10,000 boxes of food for nearly 8,000 people.

The images of long lines at food bank distributions are a searing reminder of the economic toll inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. The images taken over recent months span the country.

That’s why it doesn’t surprise Hawthorne to see thousands line up before the sun comes up just days after millions of people have lost their $600-a-week unemployment benefits. Since March, about 3.1-million Texans have filed unemployment claims.

“We know that the need is out there. We know that it’s great. And what this pandemic has done has just shown, shine a light on poverty and hunger and our communities that are in desperate need,” Hawthorne said.

From a warehouse, the north Texas food bank is distributing more than a million pounds of food per week.

Jesus Baca, a disabled former law enforcement officer, said the boxes can feed him for up to three weeks. He describes himself as “really financially strained. I got house payments, doctor bills and so forth I got to pay.”

The organizers say they’re giving away about $50 worth of food per person, which will feed a family of four for about a week.

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