Two of the largest food banks in North Texas are pushing full steam ahead into 2021.
This comes after 31,000 more Texans filed for unemployment relief just before Christmas in December, a sign that the need continues into the new year.
This month, some of the larger food distributions are continuing after a brief hiatus over the holidays. Both North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank are hosting events this week and next to kick off the new year, with no intentions of stopping any time soon.
For TAFB, the mega mobile food markets are picking back up again this month. The massive distribution at Herman Clark Stadium in south Fort Worth will continue on Friday and be there every Friday for the rest of January and beyond.
The event does not start until 10 a.m. but cars started lining up as early as 4:30 a.m. in the parking lot.
The army national guard is also back again to assist TAFB volunteers for at least the next 30 days.
More than 30 soldiers have been assigned to help both the larger scale markets and even the smaller ones hosted by TAFB. The food bank is aiming to host about 40 to 55 of these markets a week throughout North Texas.
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At the last mega market of 2020 at Herman Clark Stadium, TAFB said it was by far the biggest they've ever seen at this location. More than 3,100 cars and 100,000 meals were distributed in just four hours, giving families seven to 10 days worth of food to last them through the holidays.
Now that we're in the first month of 2021, food bank CEO Julie Butner said they are shifting some focus onto launching programs that lift families out of the crisis that put them in these food lines in the first place.
“We have two missions, we need to feed the community and then we need to shorten the line. Feed the line and shorten the line,” she explained. “We’ve been very engaged in distributing food into the community, the 'feed the line' activity. The 'shorten the line' activity is about what are solutions that help educate, support, trained community members so that we can lift them out of the crisis that they been in that has forced them into our lines to receive food.”
She said we're seeing that now with the recent distributions focused on the food desert zip code of 76104. The food bank is working on plans to send a wellness bus there to sign people up for SNAP benefits.
TAFB said it is also working on adding more community gardens and hosting classes for families on growing food or cooking the food they get in their boxes.