Hundreds pick up food at distribution event in Caldwell

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CALDWELL, Tex. (KBTX) - A drive-thru food distribution event in Burleson County saw hundreds of participants Wednesday.

The event happened at the Burleson County Fairgrounds and ended almost an hour early after the Brazos Valley Food Bank ran out of food.

The organization said 20,934 pounds of food was distributed to 272 households.

Hundreds of vehicles were already lined up when the gates opened at 11:00 a.m.

The need is so great some participants said they waited an hour and a half for their turn.

Staff with the Brazos Valley Food Bank, Burleson County church pantries, local volunteers and Texas National Guard Members helped distribute all the food.

The Brazos Valley Food Bank is working to donate hundreds of meals during the COVID-19 pandemic at events like this around the Brazos Valley.

"We are welcoming anyone who has any concern about food. So if you know if you’ve got uncertainty with your work, uncertainty with your paycheck or you haven’t gotten your stimulus check and you worry about food on the table, please come out," said Theresa Mangapora, the Brazos Valley Food Bank's executive director.

Some people waiting in line said they were seeing economic challenges, such as family breadwinners losing hours in the oil field. Energy work is a big part of Burleson County's economy and has brought well-paying jobs in the past.

"It's a big relief," said Tammy Marek of Caldwell at the BVFB food distribution event. "It's a true blessing. It really is."

Marek works in healthcare and said her hours have been cut.

"First time I've had to do anything like this," Marek said. "Usually I'm on the other end delivering to the shut-ins and needy families. That's what we usually do, but with all this taking place it's a true blessing, there's a big need out here right now, and it's a big turnout. Very grateful, very grateful."

Burleson County Judge Keith Schroeder said there are many needs in the community right now.

"The unemployment at this time is concerning," said Schroeder.
"There's a lot of people that lost their jobs. A lot of those jobs may be short-term losses and will come back soon with the reopening of Texas, but at the same time, we have a lot of ties to the oil and gas industry in Burleson County. It's a big industry in our county, and there's a lot of concerns there that maybe some longer-term unemployment due to that."

"A lot of people that had some you know really good high level jobs that are out of work right now because of the oil and gas," he added.

Schroeder said he's worried about short-term and long term unemployment.

"It's good to see them utilizing the effort, but at the same time, it shows the need and the stress that our economy's on," said Schroeder.

Willie Hobbs sees food insecurity regularly as a volunteer at Elizabeth Lutheran Church's Community Pantry. She said the pandemic has brought new impacts.

"It's extremely important because food insecurity is such a personal thing," she said."We all want to be able to eat and I can honestly say I've never been truly hungry."

"I'm very appreciative of it. I know the community is too," said Marek.

If you missed the event Wednesday, the Brazos Valley Food Bank's next distribution event is Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Veterans Park in College Station.

Other remaining events include:

- Wednesday, May 27 at the Washington County Fairgrounds

- Friday, May 29 at the Robertson County Fairgrounds

For Burleson County residents, Elizabeth Lutheran Church hosts their food pantry on the third Saturday of the month from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. For that church pantry you will need proof of residency in Burleson County and a current ID.