In a time when much of the world has slowed down or remains on pause, the Tarrant Area Food Bank is busier than ever.
President and CEO Julie Butner said over the past four months, the food bank has served about 16 million meals to those in need.
“It’s record-breaking. Tarrant Area Food Bank has never, ever served this many meals in our history since 1982,” Butner said.
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According to Butner, the food bank saw an increase in need right as the novel coronavirus pandemic unfolded and resulted in furloughs and layoffs. In June, they served nearly six million meals. Last month, that figure was about 5 million.
“There was a little bit of a downturn when the unemployment checks arrived and the stimulus checks arrived. Now we’ve leveled out at about 50% higher capacity than pre-COVID,” she said. “In a normal month pre-COVID, we were looking at about three [million], so we doubled the amount of meals we’re putting out in the community.”
On Thursday, six mobile events were held to distribute food including one at New Breed Grace Baptist Church in Fort Worth. The Tarrant Area Food Bank currently hosts between 35 to 45 mobile events each week throughout 13 counties.
There are no plans to slow down distribution, Butner said. Starting Friday, they will begin hosting weekly “mega distributions” through November staffed by food bank workers.
It will be similar to ones earlier this summer, like the event held at the Globe Life Field in Arlington on July 8.
“The weekly mega-events are intended to supplement the work that our partner agencies are doing to get the food into the hands of these new hungry, these people who have never needed our services before,” she said. “This is a way to get it out there quickly. It’s fresh food. It’s coming from the USDA. It’s coming from our grocer partners.”
Butner said while she does not anticipate running low on food, they are looking at potential satellite storage space. Their current distribution warehouse is built to hold 50 million pounds of food.
“The two biggest issues we have right now is capacity. We need storage facilities and human resources. We relied heavily on volunteers and under COVID circumstances, we can’t have volunteers,” she said.
The upcoming distribution on Friday, Aug. 14 will be held on 7606 West Freeway in White Settlement starting at 8 a.m.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.