Two lanes of traffic were backed up across the Interstate 35 overpass for hours Sunday afternoon, as people waited for an emergency food distribution at Love of Christ Food Pantry, 2000 Airport Road.
“This is the largest single food distribution we’ve ever had,” said Kelly Thomas, a member of the pantry’s board of directors. “It was 20 pallets of chicken, 20 pallets of bananas and then pallets of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit.”
Emily Parks, public relations manager for the City of Temple, said the food distribution was part of the city’s shift to recovery after the week-long winter storm.
“The stores are not out of food,” she said. “It’s just a matter of making it available. The city wants to make an effort to make food available until grocers can get their shelves stocked back to regular.”
Thomas said that Temple Fire Chief Mitch Randles contacted the pantry about making the emergency food distribution.
“Walmart is the one donating all the food,” Thomas said.
On Saturday, she said, Temple firefighters helped unload the heavy boxes of chicken.
“They were a huge help,” she said. “The fire chief came by this morning to offer help and make sure we were ready to go.”
She said Ron Johnson of Walmart Distribution Center helped to coordinate the event.
The pantry put out the word for volunteers Saturday night on their Facebook page and 30,000 people saw the post, she said.
“People started messaging us, asking us if we wanted help,” she said.
Every family was supposed to get about 110 pounds of food, said A.C. Blunt, pantry director. Some people were picking food up for others. In this particular distribution, he said, no identification was required.
“It’s beyond belief what we’re seeing going on,” he said. “People were able to get together as a unit and make sure people got food.”
The food pantry regularly does food distributions to about 300 families every week, 6-7:15 p.m. Wednesday and 9-11:15 a.m. Thursday, Thomas said. They need a photo identification card and a piece of mail confirming their Bell County address.
“We love serving our community,” she said. “We hand out food, clothing, shoes, hygiene items and baby products.”