Thousands of Texas families hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic waited up to 12 hours to put food on the table this holiday season — as the state grapples with a surge in infections.
The normally quiet grounds of Fair Park in Dallas was home to the North Texas Food Bank’s largest giveaway of food since coronavirus spread through the state, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Saturday’s Thanksgiving-themed event handed out food to about 8,500 families facing financial stress from growing the crisis — 17 times more people than the annual event usually serves.
Photos from the event showed traffic backed up for miles as people waited for hours in their cars for a package containing a frozen turkey, 20 pounds of canned goods and 15 pounds of fruits and vegetables along with bags of bread.
Armando Castillo camped out overnight to get first dibs and waited more than 10 hours.
“We’re really appreciative of food drives because if this didn’t happen, I guess we’d be back home farming for ourselves,” Castillo told The Dallas Morning News.
“They also get food from their school — that’s why we have been able to make it lately,” he said of the family’s children.
Two hundred volunteers worked through the night to prepare the event and load deliveries to local churches into U-Hauls.
North Texas Food Bank president and CEO Trisha Cunningham said the pandemic has exposed previously hidden food insecurity in North Texas.
Since mid-March, the food bank has given out about 70.8 million pounds of food.
“So many people need it right now, and there is no stigma attached if you’re coming through this line. You will be served with dignity and respect,” Cunningham told the paper.
The seven-day moving average of COVID-19 cases in the Lone Star State is now 9,807, up from 3,932 a month ago, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from Saturday.
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