Families throughout North Texas continue to be financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which also impacts their ability to buy food.
A nonprofit in McKinney points to recent numbers from the USDA that "conservatively estimates that there are more than 100,000 Collin County residents who currently do not have enough to eat, including at least 40,000 Collin County children who go to bed hungry each night."
"It's not gonna stop in 2020," said Scott Elliott, executive director of Community Lifeline Center. "We’ve already started making plans to provide this level of service and food and beyond, all the way through 2021."
Elliott's nonprofit now distributes 50,000 pounds of food every month, ten times more than before the pandemic.
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"We're seeing requests from approximately 40% new folks who we’ve never heard from before," said board member Liz Strand Cimini.
With so much need comes the opportunity to try something new.
Community LifelineCenter (CLC) and Alliance of Elite Youth Leadership (AEYL) and Community LifelineCenter (CLC), two nonprofit organizations based in McKinney, have joined forces to launch a new program called Feeding Friends and Families which was designed to distribute high-quality food to those in need. The first events are planned for September.
"Our thought is that if we can work alongside other nonprofits, we can take advantage of the strengths and the reach we have in donors and clients," Elliott explained.
"An outstanding example of how especially smaller nonprofits can get together, they can be flexible, they can be nimble, they can meet the changing need in the community," Cimini said.
The inaugural Feeding Friends and Families events are scheduled for Sat., Sept. 12 and on Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon, 300 Throckmorton Street in McKinney.
Up to 800 families will each receive two large boxes of food per distribution, one containing perishable produce and dairy products, and the other containing shelf-stable items including fruits, vegetables and proteins. The food comes from the North Texas Food Bank in Plano and Services of Hope in Dallas.
Anyone in McKinney or the surrounding area who is experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19 or other crisis is eligible to receive the free food. Recipients will be asked to complete a short survey, which will be used by the program to identify additional areas of need.
"The pandemic does not discriminate. We are seeing need across all income sectors, all ages and Feeding Friends and Families has been put in place to address hunger wherever it occurs in Collin County," Cimini said.
"Goes back to the question, 'How do we eliminate hunger in McKinney? We think this will certainly put a dent in it," Elliott said. "I won't say it's the only answer or the final answer but I think it will get us a long way down that path."