The North Texas Food Bank has called on the Texas National Guard to aid in food distribution efforts.
Members of the National Guard arrived in Plano this weekend to help feed those in need across the 13 counties served by the North Texas Food Bank.
This effort will provide necessary aid to the Food Bank as they work to increase their distribution efforts to meet the growing need in the region.
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“The Food Bank and their member agencies play a critical role in North Texas," Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said. “The support from the National Guard will allow for them to continue to meet their mission. We know that as the weeks go on, the need for support will only continue to grow.”
More than 250 members of the Texas National Guard have been mobilized in support of the North Texas Food Bank. Guard members will initially be on-site for 30 days and will be applied in four areas:
- Production line: Approximately 140 guard members will work on the production floors, creating family meal boxes for distribution.
- Mobile pantry distribution: Approximately 30 guard members will work to expand the growing mobile pantry distributions
- Warehouse and supply chain: Approximately 30 guard members will be trained on warehouse operations, and 12 guard members will be allocated as drivers.
- Partner agency support: Approximately 50 guard members will be available to assist partner agencies who are also in need of support.
“The team at the Food Bank is thankful to all of our public leaders who helped to bring in these additional resources,” Trisha Cunningham, President and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, said. “Our goal is to serve as many people as possible, as safely as possible. Support from the National Guard will allow us to have the manpower to make thousands of food boxes each week, making these available to our partners and via our mobile pantry program.”
The Food Bank's mobile pantry distributions recently have surged from 1,000 to almost 2,000 households served. Prior to the pandemic, normal distributions served an average of 300 households.
“Our Texas Guardsmen live, work and train in communities across Texas,” Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas, said. “These Citizen Soldiers and Airmen are your neighbors and they are deeply invested in keeping our friends and fellow Texans safe.”
The Texas National Guard's support will also provide relief for other local nonprofits. The Food Bank will work to transition the workers serving at warehouse locations to other local nonprofits who are also looking to meet the increased demand.
"This pandemic has brought uncertainty to our region, but it has also brought together a caring community. We will face this together and come out stronger on the other side. To each person that has donated food or funds, has worked in our warehouse or advocated for our mission, I thank you. We truly could not do this without you,” said Cunningham.
Meanwhile, the food bank is running out of food due to dwindling retail donations. Dallas County is helping spread the world about a virtual food drive to help bring in more food donations from elsewhere.
“Over 30% of the food that we would bring in the door was from those retail donations. Well, they’re selling everything off the shelf right now. So there’s not a lot of retail donations for our partner agencies to pick up, for for us to pick up," explained Cunningham. "So we’re having to purchase more food. And even the purchased food -- because demand is so high -- they're capping us at how much we can order. We have truckloads of food coming in every day but we’re still sending more out then we’re bringing in at this point.”
Right now, they are requesting certain bulk items for the community to donate to help:
- Canned tuna fish
- Canned green beans
- Peanut butter
- Canned meat
- Canned fruit in its own juice
The bulk donations help the food bank to more easily sort items into meal kits for families instead of devoting precious resources toward sorting random amounts of food.
The food bank also has a wish list on Amazon if you wish to help without having to leave your home. Click here to see it.