VA food pantry

Volunteers load food from the Central Texas Food Bank into a vehicle during a pantry visit at the American Legion Post 133 in Temple. The Temple VA is currently not allowing visitors on the medical campus in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

There are lots of unknowns related to COVID-19. Those unknowns include many medical questions, but another unknown is pretty basic: Where are people who aren’t working going to get the food their families need?

Operation Feeding Temple is requesting monetary donations for the local food pantries under its umbrella. The organization is the force behind the biggest community food drives — Food for Families, Friends Feeding Friends and other drives throughout the year.

Operation Feeding Temple is also one of the biggest resources for local food pantries: St. Vincent de Paul of Greater Temple Inc., Love of Christ Food Pantry, Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church and Churches Touching Lives for Christ.

Each of the pantries have seen an increase in clients and others needing assistance due to COVID-19, which is affecting the work force. The pantries expect this trend to continue over the coming months.

On Thursday, the Temple VA’s regularly scheduled pantry visit from the Central Texas Food Bank moved to a new location. The pantry will be at the parking lot at American Legion Post No. 133 at the intersection of South 25th Street and Avenue M until further notice.

Last week, Love of Christ food pantry had 50 new families sign up for assistance, AC Blunt, director of the pantry, said.

Typically, most people show up at the first of the month, Blunt said. However, the number of families getting food from the pantry doubled by the third week of March.

“There are a group of families who we hardly see, we’re seeing those families now,” he said.

The food pantries won’t be able to solve this problem, Blunt said. “We do want to be part of the solution.”

Operation Feeding Temple will use the donations to keep Temple pantries full, food on tables and a little extra reassurance as coronavirus cases increase locally.

Donations will support St. Vincent de Paul of Greater Temple Inc., Love of Christ Food Pantry, Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church and Churches Touching Lives for Christ.

Pantry details

The pantries are offering a drive-through service to help with social distancing and to abide to the shelter-in-place guidelines. Check their social pages for the most recent updates.

Drive through days and times are:

• Love of Christ, 2000 Airport Road — Wednesdays, 6-7:15 p.m., and Thursdays 9-11:15 a.m.

• St. Vincent de Paul, 166 W. Ave. D — Thursdays, 9-11 a.m.

• Churches Touching Lives for Christ 702 W. Ave. G — Tuesdays, 9-11a.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon.

• Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church, 2497 W. FM 93 — Second Wednesday of every month for last names starting with A-L and fourth Wednesday of every month for last names starting with M-Z.

To make an online donation visit www.OperationFeedingTemple.com; www.Facebook.com/OperationFeedingTemple; or Instagram: www.Instagram.com/OperationFeedingTempleTX.

Checks may be mailed to: 4311 S. 31st St., Suite 150, P.O. Box 123, Temple, 76502, and “made payable to: Operation Feeding Temple Inc.”

St. Vincent de Paul in Temple has seen an increase in the number of families coming to the pantry on Thursdays.

There are so many families in need of food for their children, said Caitlyn West, assistant director of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and Pantry.

“Today we served 190, the usual number is closer to 80,” West said Thursday.

Chris Ballard, director of Churches Touching Lives for Christ, said more people are showing up on the days CTLC gives out groceries.

Many have lost their jobs and their kids are at home, making it difficult to make ends meet, Ballard said.

“They were hanging on by a thread before, but now with no job it’s impossible to pay the bills, pay the rent and still have enough money to purchase the amount of food their families require,” she said.

The food pantries had been picking up leftover bakery items and bread from businesses, but that has stopped, Ballard said. The Central Texas Food Bank is sending a little less each week.

“The oranges and potatoes I ordered last week didn’t make it onto the truck,” she said.

While Ballard was in the parking lot, a regular customer drove up.

“All she wanted was a tomato and I don’t have one to give her,” Ballard said.

A surprise delivery of dry goods had just arrived.

The change in how clients collect their groceries is going well. Individuals drive up in their car and they are handed a prepared bag of groceries.

For those who don’t have cars, Ballard will provide a suitcase that can carry three to four grocery bags.

“They can unload it at home and bring it back the next time they need food,” she said.