Fort Worth

Thousands Receive Thanksgiving Meals from Fort Worth Food Banks

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time of giving, and hundreds took advantage of the generosity of area food banks in Fort Worth on Tuesday.

It's a service supplied all year long and, this year, in greater numbers.

At the Hope Center in Fort Worth volunteers help give out food to those in need every Tuesday. But at Thanksgiving time the number in needs expands significantly.

"We just double-up the food," said Leonard Gaut, the warehouse manager for the center.

Last Friday, the center gave out more than 500 turkey dinners to families in need of help. Then on Tuesday, the line of cars waiting for their turn never seemed to end.

"They're saying over 1,000 cars," said the Rev. Jason McKay, pastor of Light Church.

McKay and several people from his congregation were among the volunteers loading up cars full of fresh food for the holiday. Turkey after turkey headed home with families that might otherwise not have such an extravagant holiday meal.

"It really helps us out a whole lot, when you don't have as much and been struggling," said Eric Brewer, a center client. "We're really thankful, thank God."

"This helps a lot," said Clamencia Fabela, a Community Food Bank client.

Fabela was the last customer of the day at the food bank on Tuesday. She was one of 4,000 who registered for the holiday meals. Hundreds more though have showed up also in need, which prompted a request for more turkeys and has resulted in more donations.

"Thank you to the people who help them, help us," Fabela said.

The reason for the last-minute donations is because demand is clearly up significantly, not just on Thanksgiving but year round.

"A year ago we were probably doing 350 families a day, but we're probably doing 450 (now)," said Regena Taylor, executive director of the Community Food Bank.

"This year we'll go over probably 350,000 families that we will give food to," said Robert Balance, chairman of the Hope Center.

Balance said the economy is still struggling for the many people the center serves, even though unemployment numbers may be down many people still need a helping hand up.

"I wasn't expecting this many people," Brewer said.

Brewer waited nearly 90 minutes in line to get his Thanksgiving meal something he and so many others were grateful to receive.

"It means a lot," he said.

The center will continue to help on the holidays, along with each Tuesday and Friday every week of the year.

"We feed every family that comes," Gaut said.

For the first time in its history, the Hope Center expected to run out of Thanksgiving meals on its big giveaway day.

Meanwhile, Community Food Bank is still hoping for some more turkey donations. It will give out more Thanksgiving meals on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for those who didn't have vouchers but are still looking for a meal. It's unclear how many meals they'll have, but they plan to help everyone they can.

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