Thousands of cars line up to collect food in Texas

By: News Desk      Published: 11:36 AM, 17 Nov, 2020
Thousands of cars line up to collect food in Texas

Thousands of people lined up for groceries at a food bank distribution event in Dallas, Texas, this weekend, with organizers saying the Covid-19 pandemic has increased need in the city.

North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food for about 25,000 people on Saturday, according to spokeswoman Anna Kurian. There were 7,280 turkeys distributed to families, Kurian told CNN. 

Photos provided by NTFB show thousands of cars lined up for NTFB's Drive-Thru Mobile Pantry at Fair Park. Kurian said the need for food "has certainly increased" with the pandemic, with Texas last week becoming the first US state to report 1 million cases of coronavirus. 

"Forty percent of the folks coming through our partners doors are doing so for the first time," she said. 

"I see blessings coming to us cause we all struggling. And I appreciate North Texas helping us out," Dallas resident Samantha Woods told CNN affiliate KTVT as she waited in her vehicle. 

"It really is amazing and I thank God that I was able to get in the line this morning."

In another car, one woman told the station she had been struggling: "I haven't been working since December. I can't find a job, they cut off my unemployment -- it's a big deal. It's a real big deal."

NTFB President Trisha Cunningham said she is proud of her team and the community "for providing some hope and care during these extraordinary times."

"It was quite a humbling scene to see so many in need," she told CNN.

NTFB has several mobile pantry events scheduled throughout the week. 

According to Daily Mail, out of the million Covid cases more than 119,000 of those have been reported in Dallas County, where 1,379 people have also died from the disease. The most afflicted county in the region is Harris, which encapsulates Houston, where 174,000 cases have been recorded and more than 2,900 people have died.

In addition to soaring case counts, Texans are also filing applications for unemployment relief at a high rate. Workers in the Lone Star State filed 32,422 first-time unemployment insurance claims during the week ending November 7, according to US Department of Labor data. The state saw a decrease of 5,179 unemployment claims from the previous week, when 37,601 claims were filed.

Nearly 3.8 million people have filed for unemployment relief since the beginning of the pandemic, and the state’s unemployment rate remains more than double what it was at the start of the year.

Texas’ unemployment rate in September was 8.3 percent — an increase from the 6.8 percent August jobless rate, according to a Texas Workforce Commission announcement on October 16. 

The uptick is said to be an example of how some industries that had hoped to weather the coronavirus pandemic's economic recession have not yet been able to do so and have instead announced a large number of layoffs, according to economists.  

Dallas resident Samantha Woods told KTVT from her vehicle Saturday, ‘I see blessings coming to us because we are all struggling. And I appreciate North Texas helping us out.’

Armando Castillo, of Seagoville, told Dallas News of how he and his step-sons camped overnight in his car outside Fair Park to ensure they wouldn’t be driving back home empty handed.

He told the outlet he has jumped between jobs to support his six-person household. Castillo said he was an electrical subcontractor before the pandemic hit, before taking jobs with Amazon and a flooring company.

‘We’re really appreciative of food drives because if this didn’t happen, I guess we’d be back home farming for ourselves,’ he said. ‘They also get food from their school — that’s why we have been able to make it lately,’ he said of the family’s children.

Saturday's event was the largest mobile distribution event NTFB has ever carried out, Cunningham said. It's estimated that food was provided to around 8,500 families. 

Since mid-March, the food bank has given out about 70.8 million pounds of food, according to the agency’s data. Food stocks come from individual donations and from grocers, farmers, the US Department of Agriculture and more.

Cunningham said that every dollar contributed provides three meals. ‘We know that there are greater needs that are continuing in our community, so we want to make sure we have the ability to sustain our efforts to continue to serve,’ she told Dallas News, urging anyone who can to donate.

‘So many people need it right now, and there is no stigma attached if you’re coming though this line. You will be served with dignity and respect.’