HOUSTON - Target Hunger and Kroger are teaming up to address a hunger crisis: minority families in Northeast Houston who not only live in food deserts but have lost jobs this year and can't buy food.
A food desert is when there is no grocery store within a mile, usually in low-income neighborhoods. Residents often don't have cars, so they can only buy what they can carry or take on the bus. Families have to rely on fast food or convenience store food in their communities, which can lead to diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.
Target Hunger and Kroger grocery stores distributed food to 250 families in Northeast Houston Thursday at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church.
"You know what really breaks my heart and why I started doing this here? I saw an old lady in the store buying cat food. I made a comment I said, 'oh, you like cats? And she said I don't have any,' said Janet Williams, first in line for the food distribution. "You know she was buying it so she could eat."
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Car after car, 250 deep, filled with people, families, waiting in long lines, because hunger pains last longer.
"I've been laid off twice this year due to COVID. I work in construction, and if it wasn't for Target Hunger and United Way, I would not be able to feed my family," said Angela Russ, showing us her approval notice for unemployment benefits. "I applied for benefits twice as you can see I've applied for six weeks and I've received nothing."
Some come not only to feed their own families but their family of neighbors.
"Everybody laid off or got hurt on the job or something. I try to help a lot of people in my neighborhood as well as get a few things that I need," said Joel Parker, waiting in line.
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Target Hunger serves primarily Black and brown communities in northeast Houston.
"This is what we're seeing, over and over, is that about 250 households on average show up for our distributions, and we have three and four a week," said Sandra Wicoff, CEO of Target Hunger.
Kroger grocery stores are working with Target Hunger to get to the root causes of food insecurity in these vulnerable communties.
"This year, they've give us over $40,000. That provides about 66,000 meals, and that translates to approximately 250 households having three meals a day for a month," said Wicoff.
As these families wait in line for food, wait for grocery stores to open in their neighborhoods, and wait for income so they can feed their families.
"It's been very, sorry, it's been unpredictable. You don't know what's going to happen from day to day," said Russ.
If you'd like to help, Kroger shoppers can round up their payment at checkout and donate the extra to Kroger's Zero Hunger, Zero Waste program.
Target Hunger also welcomes donates and volunteers.