For the past quarter-century, the good people at KBTX-TV have joined with the good people of the Brazos Valley to collect food and money to feed our hungry friends and neighbors during the day-long Food for Families food drive.
That annual drive always is welcome, but oy, is sit ever needed this year as countless Brazos County families struggle to put food on the table in a midst of this awful novel coronavirus pandemic. So many businesses were forced to close as the pandemic tried to strangle the life out of this multicounty community and though many have started to reopen, hundreds if not thousands of people in this area still are without work.
Some of those who lost jobs may have set aside some “rainy day” money to get by during the tough times, but the tough times have last far too long and that money probably has run out long ago. Many others who lost jobs lived from paycheck to paycheck. The bills keep coming, but there is little or no money to pay them.
And through it all, people are struggling to put food on the table. People who always have had plenty to eat are going to bed hungry and unsure of whether they will have food the next day.
Across the country, hungry Americans have waited hours and hours in long lives to receive a box or two of food from generous communities. Fortunately, the lines haven’t been as long in the Brazos Valley, but the demand for food is just as real.
For some 40 years now, the Brazos Valley Food Bank has worked hard to feed as many food insecure people in the Brazos Valley as possible. It’s a huge task, but food bank executive director Mangapora and her staff and a great group of volunteers have worked magic to feed people.
The task is monumental. In “normal times,” 1 out of 5 people in Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Madison, Robertson and Washington counties are food insecure. More than 50 percent of are area’s children are food insecure, as are one-third of our seniors.
But these aren’t “normal times” — not by a long shot. The workers and volunteers at the Brazos Valley increased their efforts, but they depend on the rest of us to fulfill their mission.
Helping this time of year is so easy, thanks to Food for Families — and this year it will even be easier.
On Wednesday KBTX will sponsor the 25th annual Food for Families food drive. Channel 3 reporters and staff members will man the dropoff location at the Brazos Center. This year, there will be five auxiliary dropoffs throughout the Brazos Valley: Son-Shine Outreach Center in Madisonville, Pridgeon Community Center in Franklin, Hearne Railroad Depot in Hearne, St. Mary’s, Lady of the Lourdes Catholic Church Hall in Caldwell, and Mid-South Synergy in Navasota.
The Brazos Center location will be open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., while the other centers will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. At each site, volunteers will be on hand to take your donation of food or money from your car — you won’t even have to get out! Be sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing an approved mask.
The food will allow the Brazos Valley Food Bank and its partners food so many more residents of the valley throughout the holiday season and into the new year. No perishables or homemade foods can be accepted.
While all nonperishable food is welcome, there is a special need for canned or dried beans, canned vegetables, canned meats, family size and individual size cereal, cereal bars, chili, coffee, flour, canned fruits, shelf stable fruit cups, individual size juice boxes, macaroni and cheese, granola bars, peanut butter, jam and jelly, ketchup and mustard. poptop Vienna sausages, oatmeal, shelf stable pudding, rice, ravioli, pasta, sugar, soup, tunafish, tuna and chicken salad kits, and bottled water.
In addition to food items, the Brazos Valley Food Bank accepts, paper towels, toilet paper and children’s and adult diapers.
Many grocery stores have prefilled bags of needed items available for purchase. Why not take your children when you shop and let them pick out items to donate to the drive — and be sure to include them when you stop by one of the dropoff sites. That way, they will begin to learn the importance of giving back, of helping others.
The Brazos Valley Food Bank also is accepting monetary donations. Using its leverage, the food bank can turn $1 into five meals for hungry valley residents. Money also allows the food bank to purchase needed items to complete its offerings.
Of course, you can make a donation at any of the dropoff sites on Wednesday or online at bvfb.org. Donors also may text 313131 to KBTXFFF and the name of the county.
Last year, the Food for Families drive raised more than 156,000 pounds of food and almost $161,000. We know times are tough for most of us this year of the virus, but please be as generous in donating food or money on Wednesday.
Our hungry friends and neighbors throughout the Brazos Valley are counting on us.
Thank you to the Brazos Valley Food Bank for all it does through the year to keep hunger at bay in the Brazos Valley. And thank you to everyone at KBTX and the countless volunteers for helping meet this community need.