HOUSTON - Coronavirus closures and cancellations have caused millions of people to lose jobs across the country.
With people out of work, the Houston Food Bank and Houston Independent School District held a food drive Saturday afternoon. More than 3,000 families received 60 pounds of donated food.
“I lost my job,” said Elia Perez. “I need help. I have 4 kids.”
“We need some food,” said another person in line. “I [haven’t] worked since March 22nd.”
The Food Drive had been scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Saturday, but a long line forced the volunteers to open about 3 hours early. Traffic was bad around NRG Stadium much of the day as hundreds of cars waited in line for food.
“We’ve been trying to do unemployment, but we couldn’t get through,” said one family. “[We’re] just trying to get help.”
Many of Saturday’s food bank recipients say they have never needed financial assistance or help with food before.
“This is my first time living this in my entire life,” said Freddy Coronado. “It’s pretty tough. You don’t know what’s going to be tomorrow. You just live day by day.”
Occasional rain showers didn’t slow any of the volunteers down.
The food drive continued despite the rain.
“It’s not stopping us today,” said Mary Jo James, a volunteer. “We’ve got to feed those hungry people.”
Demand for help from the Houston Food Bank has increased dramatically throughout the past few weeks. It’s the largest food bank in the country, and we’re told they’re seeing double or triple their normal demand.
“Our work after [Hurricane] Harvey, we thought that was huge,” said Brian Greene, President of the Houston Food Bank. “When you look at how many households are impacted right now, it’s actually more than that.”
While more than 3,000 families received free food, the food drive ran out of items with dozens of cars still in line.
“It’s very tough,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Dr.Grenita Lathan. “When you close off a line and say there’s no more, your heart goes out because you wonder what’s going to happen.”
Unfortunately, we were there the moment Taofiq Adenrian found out the gates were closing before his family could receive food.
“It’s all good man,” said Adenrian. “God will bless us. God will give us timing. I just pray for better days.”
HISD and the Houston Food Bank are scheduled to hold another food drive on Monday.