CENTRAL TEXAS — The Food Care Center in Killeen is dedicated to serving people of all walks of life, and that's especially true of military members and their families.
The food bank has been working with the Military Family Advisory Network for over a year now to organize food giveaways for veterans. Saturday is bringing another giveaway to the Food Care Center, but this one may draw one of the largest military crowds they've seen yet.
"We've reached out to a number of groups on Fort Hood, as well as all social media pages. We've had the online sign-up," said the executive director of the Food Care Center, Raymond Cockrell.
The food bank is expecting over 700 military families to drive up to their facility. With so many people expected, the staff has been hard at work getting things prepared. Dennis Duffey is the operations manager of the Food Care Center, and he said they're going to get some preparation help from some special guests on Friday morning.
"We're going to have about 20 of our active-duty soldiers come from Fort Hood," said Duffey. "They're going to be assisting us in building the bags that we'll be putting together for the drive-by."
40 other volunteers will be on hand to put the bags together. Each family will be going home with 19 grocery items, most of which were donated by partner corporations like Tyson Foods. And then comes the giveaway on Saturday.
Duffey is confident that they'll be able to keep the line of cars flowing smoothly.
"It's three, four, or five cars a minute. I think we've got enough folks to be able to do that. We've got a pretty good system now," said Duffey.
The giveaway has an added meaning, being held on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. That choice of date was intentional, but Cockrell points out that the Food Care Center's mission to help needy military families is an effort that lasts year-round. The Killeen area has the highest percentage of hungry military members in the state.
"They should never go hungry. Never, ever go hungry. And to know that as many as one in six of our military families are food insecure in our community, we need to do something about that," said Cockrell.
Duffey was an active service member when 9/11 occurred, and to be able to help out his comrades on a day of remembrance is something he doesn't treat lightly.
"My heart is in the military, my heart is in the army. So I absolutely want to support the military as much as we possibly can," said Duffey.
The first cars in the drive-thru giveaway will enter the lot at 9 AM, and the goal is to hand out the last bag by 1 PM.
It's a lofty goal, but they have the help of many volunteers to get it done. Many who will come through the line on Saturday are those that served our country, and the Food Care Center wants to ensure that they are served in return.