Houston Chronicle

Food demand ‘through the roof ’ as supplies restored

- By Samantha Ketterer

Demand for food through Houston-area charity organizati­ons remains high after shortages stemming from Winter Storm Uri, while supplies are still slower to obtain, according to the Houston Food Bank.

The time between ordering food and delivery is delayed, but organizati­ons working with the food bank have generally had enough food to keep up with community needs, spokeswoma­n Paula Murphy said.

“We are actively procuring canned protein/fruits and vegetables, ready-to-eat meals,” Murphy said. “We are grateful for the community’s response to help us help all of our neighbors in need.”

Public officials and charity leaders have said they expect many Houstonian­s to struggle with food insecurity in the weeks to come, especially after food spoiled during power outages and low-income residents lost days of work because of an inability to drive on icy roads. The Houston Food Bank is often the point of first contact for southeast Texas food pantries and charities, with more than 1,500 groups partnering to receive and distribute their goods.

Catholic Charities gets its largest portion of food from the Houston Food Bank, spokeswoma­n Betsy Ballard said.

“We expect long lines at all locations since we were unable to be open last week, and especially since so many people had to discard food that was spoiled during power outages,” Ballard said. “Families who are already vulnerable and challenged to keep enough food on the table were hit the hardest by the freeze, since they lack the resources to refill their pantries.”

The organizati­on’s two largest food pantries will reopen for regular distributi­on Tuesday at Guadalupe Center, 326 S. Jensen Drive in Houston’s East End, and the Mamie George Commu

nity Center at 1111 Collins Road in Richmond.

The Mamie George Center was able to distribute food to about 500 families Saturday using food bank deliveries.

The food bank is also holding a “Neighborho­od Super Site” food and water distributi­on from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at NRG Stadium, Blue Lot, Gate 9. Gates open at 7 a.m. at 8510 Kirby Drive, and recipients must arrive in cars.

Tammy Chang, an organizer with Mutual Aid Houston, said her group has held four distributi­ons since the storm. Like Catholic Charities, some of the food comes from the food bank, and the rest is supplement­ed by their own purchases or volunteer and community donations.

“The demand for food is through the roof,” Chang said. “At our distributi­on yesterday, within the first five minutes we had already had so many people come through, we ran out.”

Food supply also has been slower than usual for Second Servings of Houston, communicat­ions specialist Kristen Torrez said.

The organizati­on, which “rescues” surplus food, was able to take unused food from restaurant­s that had to close during the storm. Snap Kitchen donated 1,300 pounds of individual meals, and Dessert Gallery donated 1,400 pounds of food, Torrez said.

 ?? Steve Gonzales / Staff photograph­er ?? Patti Dunn helps Monday in Operation BBQ Relief as volunteers prepare meals for distributi­on.
Steve Gonzales / Staff photograph­er Patti Dunn helps Monday in Operation BBQ Relief as volunteers prepare meals for distributi­on.
 ?? Marie D. De Jesús / Staff photograph­er ?? A volunteer helps prepare food to be distribute­d during the Neighborho­od Super Site event held Sunday in Houston.
Marie D. De Jesús / Staff photograph­er A volunteer helps prepare food to be distribute­d during the Neighborho­od Super Site event held Sunday in Houston.

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