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A busy holiday season compounded by a pandemic? The Brazos Valley Food Bank is asking for your help

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 9:00 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The holidays are always busy for the Brazos Valley Food Bank. In 2020, those holidays land during the middle of a global pandemic, which means a “double whammy” for BVFB.

So far, BVFM staff say they have had to be “flexible” to handle the changes that come with a pandemic.

“There’s been a lot of just rolling with whatever comes and figuring out a way around it,” said Shannon Avila, the programs manager. “How do we reconfigure our physical space? How do we continue to pack boxes? How do we reach people?”

BVFB has had to help schools, health care offices, and their several partner pantries reconfigure distribution, all while dealing with the increased demand coming from each one.

The partner pantries all shifted to mobile or curbside options, but Avila is proud to say that not one of them closed their doors permanently.

BVFB also worked with partner agencies and nonprofits to organize home deliveries to the at-risk or homebound.

“To make sure that folks who are quarantined still have access to food,” said Avila. “We call them ‘Q’ kits.”

The other side of the struggle is donations. This year, the food bank has received 47% less food from the USDA and 17% less food from private donations.

That means BVFB has had to purchase more food outright, and vendors can’t keep up.

“We may get that food in two weeks, or we may get it in four months,” said Ebony Knight, distributions manager.

However, necessity has led to innovation, all in an effort to reach the new clients who found themselves in need for the first time due to 2020′s unexpected hardships.

“We set up a food assistance hotline to help better direct folks to resources in their community,” said Avila. She says she hopes that pandemic service will stick around even after COVID-19 is gone.

Perhaps the most visible change has been the first-ever “mega-distributions” of food across the Brazos Valley.

“It was amazing,” said Knight. “A lot of our efforts are behind the scenes so actually to be able to see it happen—and to show in our community that there is a need for it.”

“That’s why we’re here all year long,” said Avila. “That’s the whole reason we do this.”

The KBTX Food for Families Food Drive benefitting the Brazos Valley Food Bank is Dec. 2.

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