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North Texas food banks serving 3 million pounds of food per week as holidays approach

WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth logo WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth 11/24/2020 William Joy
a person holding a sign © Provided by WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth

The biggest Thanksgiving question for many families isn’t if they can gather together, but instead if there will be food to serve at all.

Tuesday afternoon, Debarah Omoregbee was just one of a few hundred lined up in a drive-thru at First United Methodist Church. It was one of several mobile pantry sites Tarrant Area Food Bank supplied Tuesday.

“We’re surviving off of unemployment,” Omoregbee said. “We don’t have enough money for food.”

Omoregbee’s story is sadly common.

“My husband and I owned our own limousine company, and, because of COVID, it’s nonexistent right now,” she said. “It’s very humbling.”

In fact, 40% of people taking advantage of food banks this year are going for the first time.

RELATED: Dallas ISD hosts large food distribution event to help families during Thanksgiving week

“We’re not the type that tries to ask for help. We are the type of family that offers the help,” Omoregbee said. “I’m thankful that our community comes together and helps people.”

Videos of long lines at food distribution centers have been shared thousands of times across social media. Each line is filled with stories just like Omoregbee’s.

“Food insecurity can happen to anyone,” said Brad Stewart, the COO of North Texas Food Bank. “Even before COVID, it was there.”

North Texas Food Bank is serving 2 million pounds of food each week right now. Tarrant Area Food Bank to the west is providing 1 million pounds per week.

“One of the keep things we’re looking at right now is, how long can we sustain this?” Stewart said. “With COVID it’s amped up to the point where it can’t be ignored. It’s there in big numbers.”

RELATED: More than 6,000 families line up for Thanksgiving food giveaway at AT&T Stadium

Both food banks are serving about 70% more food than last year, and the federal funding keeping them going is going away. Stewart is asking people to reach out to lawmakers to ask for more assistance.

“We find that unacceptable,” he said. “The economic and the impact on food insecurity isn’t going away any time soon.”

Both food banks are asking for volunteers, though the National Guard has assisted a lot recently. Both food banks are asking for monetary donations, too. North Texas Food Bank says $1 can provide up to 6 meals thanks to a matching donation from Sammons Enterprises and Beaumont Foundation of America. Each serves a 13-county area with TAFB to the west and NTFB to the east.

RELATED: 3 mobile markets planned Friday afternoon | List of grocery giveaways

Most food pantries will close up for the week after Tuesday. NTFB's last distribution of the week is Tuesday at Central Park Church of God in Garland from 9 a.m. to noon.

“For us to have to be here, it’s very hard,” Omoregbee said. “When we are in a better place, believe me, we will be giving back.”

Sometimes we don’t know how close we are to the edge till we need a hand back up. In a year with plenty to complain about, remember how far a little compassion can go.

“I think this year we’ll have something extra to be thankful for,” Omoregbee said.

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