Food pantries hit the road to feed the need no matter the distance

Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 22:46:36-04

Since the start of the pandemic, families across Texas have turned to food banks to help put breakfast or dinner on the table.

Most food banks have found that hitting the road seems to help more people.

”We were struggling a little bit because everything's going on,” explained Juan Monrial.

Monrial says he and his family don't need the Shepherd's Heart Food Pantry all the time, just when they have trouble making ends meet.

"The way the food is going up in the stores I mean, you know, you don't know whether you want to. You try to think about it now, should I put gas in my car door? Should I put food on the table?" Monrial said.

Shepherd's Heart, like pantries across Texas, has seen the need go up in the past year.

"Last year we served 41,533 families from this pantry,” said Bob Gager of Shepherd's Heart.

Just as the pandemic brought us drive-thru testing and shots, so too did pantries start drive-thru service.
But Gager saw more than one family to a car.

"What I saw was if we had somebody in a car, if there's two or three families in a car besides the driver. Now, we're piling that food on top of the people. We're averaging about 70 pounds of food per family," he said.

Gager thought if he took the food closer to those who need it, that could change.

”I got the idea that what if we weren't mobile,” he explained.

Shortening the distance would mean fewer people to a car and more benefits.

The folks that run Shepherd's Heart believe going mobile will give them an opportunity to serve more people.

So how easy is it? You might call it an "open and shut" case, like the trunk of a car.

So far, test runs have proven successful.

”Last week we did a distribution at a church over near Waco. We had 87 new families out of that 157. That opened my eyes to say, 'Wow, if we can do that here, we can do that in all of these spots as well,'" said Gager.

But this change won't come cheap.

”It's going to take me $1,000 a month to make this possible for us, and so we're asking for support that we've never asked for before,” Gager explained.

It's why food pantries across Central Texas and the Brazos Valley have begun to ask for more financial support so they can help more people.

Monrial and his family say the move to mobile will bring them real benefits.