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Food Insecurity Has Ramped Up During The Pandemic And So Have The Food Banks Meeting That Challenge

Food Bank 3 - Tarrant Area Food Bank workers distribute food at Herman Clark Stadium in Fort Worth.jpg
Christopher Connelly
/
KERA News
Tarrant Area Food Bank workers hand out groceries at Herman Clark Stadium in Fort Worth on Friday, September 11, 2020.

The North Texas Food Bank has served many millions more than it expected to over the last year, and it had to think about how to distribute and acquire that food for its constituents.

Trisha Cunningham, President and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, says the food-insecure families she serves ballooned by 25% in the past year.

"We’ve provided access to about 120 million meals and our goal for 2025 was 92 million," Cunningham said.

So her organization had to rethink its short and long-range plans. To stay efficient while avoiding physical contact, volunteers packed 25-pound food boxes for families. Unemployed restaurant workers descended on the warehouse to fill those boxes. The food bank upped its wholesale food purchases while grocery chains increased donations.

"Due to the pandemic we saw a spike in needs like we’ve never seen before," Cunningham said. "But we were also able to access support from our community, from the government. to ramp our operations practically overnight to be able to serve 10 million meals per month."

She said even though vaccinations are ramping up, the record high demand on the food bank is not expected to slow down.

"We want people to get back on their feet," she said. "We’ve always had food insecurity in our community but we’re expecting to continue to serve some of the pandemic residual for at least two years.”

The North Texas food bank serves a 13-county region home to about 5 million people. Cunningham said nearly a million of them are food insecure.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at bzeeble@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.