With the growing threat of coronavirus pandemic potentially leading to more cases and eventual deaths in America, many of its citizens are going on lockdown.
For many, that included buying every food, water and cleaning objects they could find and in plenty of cases, leaving much of society scrambling to make up for the losses.
Local Kroger and HEB stores are struggling to stock vegetables – frozen or on the stand – which are a premium commodity, bread and a number of simple to prepare meals. Water has once again become gold, this time in the modern age.
So, the battle to keep people on an even eating and drinking field and also help those who struggled to afford these needs, has now become a double task for local food banks, but the work is never done.
Hearts and Hand, with the support of the United Way of Greater Baytown Area and Chambers County, began holding food fairs over the past weekend with two of them in Baytown.
“So many collaborating partners have come together to fulfill the need for food in our community,” Nikki Rincon, executive director for Hearts and Hands of Baytown, said. “Together we have served over 2,000 families since March 13. It is rather breathtaking to see so many coming together for our neighbors in need.”
Thousands of pounds of healthy fruits and vegetables have found their way onto tables over the last 11 days through the serving hands of St Mark’s Methodist Church, Missouri Street Church of Christ, St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Cedar Bayou Baptist Church, the Hearts and Hands ministry, Hillside Church and this week Faith Family and the Baytown Community Center will join in distributions according to Rincon.
“Families are seeking food, that is the bottom line,” Rincon said. “They feel blessed when their cars are loaded with whatever we can give them. Smiles on children’s faces and weight lifted off the shoulders of moms and dads are evident in nods of gratitude.”
One of the fairs, held at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church Saturday, had unprecedented turnout, according to pastor Rev. Dr. Kenn Munn.
The fair, done via a drive-up service to eliminate a vast amount of social interaction according to Munn, drew lines that stretched approximately a mile down the road from the church. The service ended up providing for twice the amount of people the fairs there normally host.
“We built 675 boxes, we served 720 families and we estimated 3,950 people,” Munn said. “It was 20 pallets of food. This was the largest food fair we’ve ever done. We didn’t turn anyone away and we ran out of food about the time we ran out of cars.
“There was that much of a need. A lot of it I attribute to a lot of the people in the church wanting to do something since we cannot worship. We’ve done this for more than two years and we’ve never had this kind of response. I had about 50 folks from the church that was involved in some way.”
The next food fair is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Iglesia Cristo Viene, 400 Cedar Bayou Road.
A number of other ones are also scheduled including:
• Faith Family Church, 6500 N. Main Street,3-7 p.m. Wednesday
• Hillside Church, 12319 Highway 146 in Mont Belvieu, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday
• Baytown Community Center, 2407 Market Street, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday.
• Iglesia Cristo Viene, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday.
• Faith Family Church, 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 1 - 3pm to 7pm,
• Iglesia Cristo Viene, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, April 3.
• Hillside Church, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 4
• Hillside Church, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 18.
The Houston Food Bank is doing what it can to placate the needs of the locals.
“The demand is way up,” Houston Food Bank publicist Paula Murphy said. “Since this all started, it has more than doubled.”
Murphy also understands the conundrum of a battle of needs.
“We are always in need of volunteers, but there is always the balance of a stay home request and we can’t get done what we need without volunteers,” Murphy said. “We’ve put measures in place in the volunteer areas: safe distancing between people, washing their hands when they arrive and every hour that they are there. Volunteers are needed, but we want them to be healthy.
“It’s probably hard for people (In Baytown area) to drive to the Houston Food Bank to volunteer, but I am sure that there are pantries in the area that need help.”
The Houston Food Bank has sent 157.832.2 pounds of food to Baytown in March according to Murphy.
Rincon just says people need to keep the faith during tough times.
“Numbers will continue to grow, and we need volunteers to answer the call to serve,” Rincon said. “We can get the food here, but it takes a small army to facilitate a distribution. I do not know what tomorrow will bring but I know the Lord has commanded me to be strong and courageous.”
For more information on Hearts and Hands and/or to help call 832-597-8908 and at https://www.facebook.com/Hearts-and-Hands-of-Baytown-1393938504192742/. To reach the Houston Food Bank they are available at 832-369-9390 or through https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/.
To make donations to the Houston Food Bank visit https://secure.houstonfoodbank.org/site/Donation2?idb=71633257&df_id=11453&mfc_pref=T&11453.donation=form1&s_src=lb.