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As 2021 Looms, Food Banks Prepare For Busy Christmas Season

Food Bank 4 - Tarrant Area Food Bank workers distribute food at Herman Clark Stadium in Fort Worth.jpg
Christopher Connelly
Tarrant Area Food Bank workers hand out groceries at Herman Clark Stadium in Fort Worth on Friday, September 11, 2020.

Food banks have been slammed with unprecedented demand this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced more and more people to seek help feeding themselves and their families. The vaccine is on the doorstep, but the need is not going away.

Local food banks are looking at the New Year with a mix of hope and dread, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive massive demand for food aid.

Community Food Bank in Fort Worth is giving away Christmas food from Dec. 21 to 23. It’s first come, first served, and families will get a box with fresh or frozen produce, canned goods and a turkey or ham.

"It will be enough for a family to share a wonderful meal," said Rev. Karen Harris, Community Food Bank’s executive coordinator.

This giveaway comes after their Thanksgiving distribution, where they gave food to thousands of people over four days instead of the usual three, said Rev. Karen Harris, Community Food Bank’s executive coordinator.

“We are always surprised by the need. Always surprised by the need. But as things continue on this merry-go-round, we’re just hoping to be able to keep up with the pace of the merry-go-round,” she said.

Harris said the Community Food Bank has lost some donation sources during the pandemic, but its shelves have not been bare.

“We did twice as much work, sometimes with half the volunteer staff, and that is amazing,” she said.

The Tarrant Area Food Bank is dealing with the same struggles. They’ve been holding mega distribution events for months, getting food to thousands of hungry families at once.

Demand had settled out a bit since the original spike in March, president and CEO Julie Butner said, but it’s climbing again. The food bank has seen up to a 60% increase in distribution levels in the last few months, compared to this time last year.

This massive need has been expensive to meet, Butner said. She said she didn't expect it to go on this long.

"I worry about that in the immediate term, just wanting to be able to provide for the community and not knowing if we will have everything we need to do that,” she said.

Like many others, Butner sees hope in the COVID-19 vaccine currently rolling out across the country. But for now, the Tarrant Area Food Bank has food distributions planned all week, including one on Monday morning for the community in Fort Worth’s 76104 zip code.

You can find food distributions in your area at

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Fort Worth reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.