Plano food pantry needs help after freezer breaks down

- A Collin County food pantry that helps hundreds of families in need suffered a major setback after their walk-in freezer broke down.

Minnie’s Food Pantry was started by Cheryl Jackson to honor her mother, Minnie Hawthorne Ewing. It’s grown to become one of the largest food resources in Plano.

Jackson says a sudden malfunction of their walk-in freezer is forcing them to throw away thousands of dollars in meats.

"We're estimating maybe $20,000 to $30,000 just in meats,” she explained after hundreds of pounds of meat rotted. "My mom wouldn't want this to happen and I certainly don't want it to happen."

Health inspectors responded and determined the catastrophe, including a contaminated freezer from the spoiled meat, is reason to temporarily shut down the refrigerated portion of the operation. It was a hard hit for the pantry that serves up to 1,500 families every month.

“I saw it came to life when the lady was looking through the window and we said we were closed. She said, ‘No! No! You can't be closed,’ and literally my stomach just dropped,” Jackson recalled. “I remember when I tried to feed my own family and didn't have the food and what I want to give to people. The light went off. There are so many people relying on this place and we've got to do something and we've got to do it quickly."

Within hours of word circulating, volunteers with expertise in deep-cleaning and restoration showed up. Ruined carpet was also pulled out to be replaced. But solutions for the freezer and recouping the tens of thousands of dollars in lost meat remain unclear.

"We have vans. We have trucks. We will come and pick up meats,” said Jackson. “And we want the community to donate so we can get fresh vegetables back. These people need us. This is summer time and their kids are at home."

The freezer has been repaired but still requires major disinfection before food can be stored in the freezer again.

Jackson asks anyone that wants to help can donate to the organization or drop off meat at the pantry in Plano. For more information on how to help, click here.

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