The recent loss of nearly 2 million pounds of perishable food when a refrigeration system at the Houston Food Bank failed had an effect locally when Hearts and Hands of Baytown lost much of its supply of fresh produce.

Hearts and Hands of Baytown, a ministry of Iglesia Cristo Viene, receives an average of 7,500 pounds of produce a week from the Houston Food Bank, executive director Nikki Rincon said. Those deliveries have been sparse since the incident, she said.

Hearts and Hands serves as a delivery hub for Baytown-area food banks, including those at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Missouri Street Church of Christ and Cedar Bayou Baptist Church.

Hearts and Hands of Baytown Fresh Market is supported by Be Well Baytown, an initiative of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and sponsored by ExxonMobil, Rincon said.

“Working with our spokes and community partners it is our objective to provide access to fresh produce via our healthy pantry programs, food fairs and mobile food programs.

“Instead of worrying how we would provide produce to the community, I have learned to pray and allow the Lord Jesus to work. He always supplies our needs, all glory is His,” she said.

She said United Way representatives toured their facility last week and noticed the empty produce bins.  Word spread quickly and she soon heard that a $1,000 check was on the way from the Baytown Rotary Club to replenish the inventory.

“Working with the Houston Food Bank since 2014 we have worked through disasters and have always seen such and amazing outpouring from the community that it does not take long for things to ramp back up and product begin flowing to the agencies and into the hands of those we serve,” she said.

“There is always a need, so many look at Baytown and see the growth, the industry, the retail, but the need is real. Last year we served just under 60,000 individuals over a million pounds of food; we have well surpassed that this year.

“There are so many incredible organizations in town to support, working for a common goal of serving their community. 

“I challenge everyone this holiday season to give; whether it be of their time, their finances, hosting a food, toiletry or toy drive, or simply give someone a smile or a compliment. We never know what someone is going through and those little things might be just what was needed at that moment.”

For anyone with a special desire to support the food program, Rincon noted that one of their challenges is a parking lot that is muddy and slippery when it rains — a gift of pavement would be a great blessing.


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