HOUSTON - After weeks without paychecks, the growing need for food is becoming more clear across Houston.
On Saturday, hundreds of cars waited in line outside NRG Stadium for Houston Independent School District’s Food Drive, donated by the Houston Food Bank. Many families in line have young children.
“I haven’t been to work in 2 months,” said Jonathan Shelton, a Food Bank recipient with a 4-year-old. “I [haven’t] got a stimulus check yet. So, I need some free food.”
The HISD Food Drive provided 100 pounds of food to roughly 6,000 families on Saturday. Despite occasional rain showers, the donations continued until 7 PM. The gates had originally been planned to open at 4 PM, but a long line forced them to start more than 3 hours early.
“We brought more food this time,” said Nicole Lander from the Houston Food Bank. “We have more staff here. The flow is different to get more cars through.”
We also interviewed Betti Wiggins. Wiggins is HISD’s Officer for Nutritious Services tasked with keeping students fed, now without school cafeterias. We asked Wiggins, what her biggest concern is right now.
“Running out of food,” Wiggins responded.
The turnout for the HISD food drives has been overwhelming. Sky Fox showed a massive line for cars wrapping around the parking lot and spilling into main streets on Saturday. According to Wiggins, they’re not tracking whether or not vehicles represent HISD families.
“If you’re feeding households, you’re feeding kids,” said Wiggins. “Right now we’re feeding 7,000 households. If I’m feeding a family, I’m feeding a child. This is the most effective way we can do it.”
The National Guard was there on Saturday to help keep things in order.
“We’re all members of the local community,” said Lieutenant Joshua Brown. “This is our opportunity to give back. This is what we signed up to do.”
A walk-up station was also made for those not traveling in vehicles.
A tough time for many families just trying to get by.
“I took a bus. Then, another bus,” said Victoria Reilly. “It’s crazy. I just wish it would be over with already.”