Line of cars wrapped around Fair Park for food pantry distribution

Hundreds of cars stretched far beyond the entrance of Fair Park Thursday morning as the North Texas Food Bank, with help from the National Guard, handed out boxes of food to those in need.

At 9 a.m., when the event started, the line of vehicles wrapped all the way around the southeast side of Fair Park and back toward I-30.

NTFB officials said they were able to help about 2,000 families, as crews gave away 6,500 boxes of food.

At times, the line of cars stretched around the park for several miles.

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People were asked to stay in their cars and National Guard members placed the food inside their trunks to minimize contact.

The food bank said 70% of those needing food in North Texas are asking for help for the first time.

Mary Allen was waiting starting at about 6:30 a.m., two and a half hours before the National Guard started distributing food.

“I’m a senior citizen, I live on a fixed income, so this is a great place to get some kind of help,” she said.

Others helped family without transportation.

“I’m very appreciative because I have a lot of nieces and nephews that are not going to have transportation, so I’m helping them out,” Melvin Gray said.

With unemployment skyrocketing to record levels amid the coronavirus outbreak, reflected in Thursday’s long lines around the block.

With the demand so large, the National Guard is helping to coordinate this massive effort to feed families.

The NTFB has run out of food and had to stop early at previous drive-thru food pantries.

This week, they only saw the demand increase, and gave away 500 more boxes of food and served 300 more families at their mobile pantry earlier this month.

“We have two situations going on right now. We have a health crisis, as well as an economic crisis, so the folks in line here, they may have been furloughed, they may have lost their jobs, or they may have had their hours cut back,” said Dr. Valerie Hawthorne, with NTFB.

Each family had a different story of need.

“I use food stamps, but they’re not enough. This is a big help because a lot of people are out of work and I’m on disability, can only go so far. This sure will help me, there’s three in the family,” one person who got food, Willie, said.

“None of us are working and we have kids, they don’t know we don’t have money to support them,” Dalai Patiano said.

Many are hoping the boxes of food will stretch enough until they can get back on their feet.

“Thank you and thanks to God we have things like this,” Patiano said.

North Texas Food Bank officials said families without access to cars can find the nearest food bank on their website.

In some cases, they may be able to arrange delivery.

The North Texas Food Bank is also hosting several other events throughout the month.

Their next event is at the Lakewest Family YMCA Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

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