WACO, TX — After 16 months of remote and drive-up services, Caritas of Waco opened its doors to clients again on Monday.
People from 108 families visited the social services organization on Monday, a number that co-executive director Alicia Jallah says aligns with the typical number of families they were assisting remotely.
"We were so anxious to get back to kind of an old normal for us," Jallah said.
While reopening the inside of the building was certainly a step towards getting back to "normal", the organization isn't there just yet. The Caritas food pantry is only offering pre-filled carts of groceries to families for now, instead of letting clients choose items for themselves. Caritas said they plan to return to that program soon.
"There's something different about being able to serve in person, having someone come to our offices and through the line instead of having to talk through that car window," Jallah said.
Since the inside of Caritas has been closed to clients since March 2020, some employees have never had the chance to interact with clients face-to-face.
One of those employees is pantry manager Marcus Degrate, who started after the pandemic began.
"It's been a blessing to have the opportunity to just be a part of Caritas, and, you know, be a leader here. I'm just so grateful," Degrate said.
Many clients continue to face hardships as the pandemic slows down. Caritas encourages those to have the resources to volunteer their time or money to do so.
Caritas of Waco is one of the several Central Texas food pantries participating in 25 News' Feed the Need program. To donate to assist those pantries at a time of growing need, visit 25Cares.com.