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Feeding Families for Two Decades

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For nearly 20 years, the Brazos Food Bank has been piling up the food for those in need.

"We're in our fourth location now," said executive director Bill Thomas. "We started out with about one hundred thousand pounds of food each year or so at that time. Now we're up to about two million pounds of food."

More than 40,000 people benefit from the food bank's work. With as much growth as they've seen, they need a pretty big place to house their goods, and this building in the Brazos County Industrial Park has provided a lot of space.

"We found this facility and were able to move into it around four years ago," said Thomas. "It's 17,500 square feet. When we moved it, we thought it'd be plenty ample, but it's pretty well filled up right now. So we're actually looking to have some expansion in future years on these grounds."

The warehouse is divided into sections for distribution, inventory and processing, and some of the newest additions are their refrigerators and freezers. "We're doing more and more fresh and frozen foods," said Thomas. "This is typically high quality products that we're getting in here. We're emphasizing, more and more, quality proteins and fresh produce."

As the facilities have expanded, so too have the number of people who help out with the group. From its creation by five volunteers looking to help needy families, it still is volunteers who make up the vast majority of workers. There are only five fulltime employees at the food bank.

"So far this year, we've clocked 19,000 hours of volunteer hours," said Rhonda Behrens, the bank's office manager. "This morning, we trained about 30 volunteers. We also have groups and organizations that come in."

"Retired senior volunteer program is a major one of those," said Thomas. "Also, we receive volunteers from student groups at the university and churches, service organizations."

"A lot of our volunteers are court-appointed, so they really are assigned to us," said Behrens. "After they learn a little about the food bank, a lot of them will come back after they've finished their hours and still support us by volunteering here at the food bank."

And the food bank hopes what they collect through the Food for Families drive will keep those volunteers very busy.

Wednesday, KBTX and the Brazos Food Bank will hold the ninth annual Food for Families Food Drive from 5:30 AM until 10:30 PM. KBTX personalities will be at the Brazos Center throughout the day helping to collect food for the bank, and we'll be broadcasting live from the site of the drive. Last year's drive garnered $41,000 and over 200,000 pounds of food for the bank.