A refrigerated box truck is going to open up a number of possibilities for food pantries in Temple.
Last week, the volunteers at Love of Christ Food Pantry gathered to dedicate the truck.
Surrounded by a sea of volunteers decked out in lime green T-shirts, A.C. Blunt, director of Love of Christ, talked about how the truck will benefit the food pantries in Temple and those they serve, the individuals who use the pantries to feed their families.
Love of Christ Food Pantry got its start 28 years ago when representatives from three Church of Christ congregations in Temple — Avenue T, Northside and Western Hills — united to form an organization that could help feed and clothe members of the community in need of help. In preceding years, other groups have stepped up to offer support at other ministries and pantries.
Blunt recognized Dorothy Porter, a volunteer of 28 years at the Love of Christ pantry.
A lot has changed for food pantries in 28 years. The government now requires that perishable food be picked up by refrigerated trucks.
“This truck can get us in the doors to get food items we can share with other pantries,” Blunt said.
“Hunger is increasing,” he said. “According to Feeding America, one out of four children and one out of five adults will experience food insecurity.”
Baylor Scott & White did a study that indicated the biggest health issue in the Temple area is hunger and the lack of good nutrition, Blunt said.
“We live in a unique area,” he said. “Though the hunger is great, we have an opportunity to meet those needs.”
Between the Walmart, H-E-B, Performance Food and other area distribution centers, the pantry can rescue food to feed residents, Blunt said.
In addition to their time, volunteers bring along their own expertise. One volunteer at the pantry knew about trucks and was able to take the requirements of the truck and design it so it would be fit the needs of the pantry.
A fundraiser last year raised enough to purchase a refrigerated truck, Randy Sepulvado, a board member of Love of Christ Food Pantry, said.
Lee Mays, founder of Indeco sales, has provided the pantry with a truck to use over the years. At the fundraiser, he announced he was gifting the truck to the group.
The truck spent five months in Cleburne having refrigeration added, and was returned to the pantry about a month ago. A lift gate also was installed on the truck.
The pantry has a large dock and a lift to accommodate the movement of goods in and out of the facility.
“It’s such a blessing,” Sepulvado said.
The pantry can now pick up donations at the different distribution centers and local stores with no fear of losing some of the products because it gets too hot, he said.
“It’s so much easier now. We don’t have to cover the items that need to be under refrigeration with blankets and continuously check the temperature,” Sepulvado said. “Now Walmart can call and say it has several pallets of watermelons, cantaloupe and lettuce, ‘Come and get it.’”
When that happens, Love of Christ Food Pantry takes as much of the products it needs for its Wednesday and Thursday service and then calls the other pantries to come by and pick up what they need, he said. What is left over is taken to the refrigerated trailer at Churches Touching Lives for Christ food pantry.
Love of Christ has become a hub for Central Texas Food Bank deliveries. The local food pantries write their orders for Central Texas Food Bank on Monday, and deliveries are made on Wednesday.
Sometimes a distribution center donation to the Central Texas Food Bank doesn’t warrant sending a large truck from Austin to Temple for pick up. Love of Christ will get a pick up call.
There are several volunteers who can drive the pantry’s truck.
Some donations are donated to organizations other than the pantry, an overstock of candy might go to a holiday gift program, or an overstock of water and juice will go to Ralph Wilson Youth Club or Central Texas Children’s Center.
The pantry serves 200 to 250 people each week.
Love of Christ offers Wednesday evening hours for those who work.
“Most Love of Christ clients do work, they just don’t make enough money to make ends meet,” he said.
The pantry can’t repackage bulk items it sometimes receives so it will give the items to organizations like the Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House.
Following the unveiling of the truck, Northside Church of Christ held a fish fry for the food bank volunteers.