The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the food pantry at Mission First United Methodist Church from serving hundreds of families every two weeks.
On Thursday, volunteers with the church were on hand to distribute bags of groceries and, depending on the size of the family, frozen turkeys and chicken to county residents who had lined up since 6 a.m. to receive food from the church’s drive-thru food pantry.
“Before this year, we’d receive 100 families who’d show up to receive food,” Sandra Rice, director of the food pantry said. “Since the pandemic however, we’re getting more than double that because of so much need. We actually have to turn some people away when we run out.”
The church food pantry opens every first and third Thursday of the month and used to distribute bags of groceries inside the church that was purchased from the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley in Pharr. Due to the pandemic, the pantry has adjusted by opening in a curbside delivery setting outside the church located on 1101 Doherty Ave.
The pantry begins distributing food at 8:30 a.m. until they run out of food. Volunteers began the distribution the day before by spending the night bagging enough groceries for 200 families. Families received a frozen turkey this holiday.
“Sometimes we’re lucky to be able to distribute any kind of meat when we do this,” Rice said. “The turkeys alone cost us $500.”
To receive a meal from the food pantry, drivers must provide an I.D. and proof of residency.
“It’s a great need here in our town of Mission and the entire county,” Pastor Bill Duke said. “I’m proud of those in our church who are volunteering even during the pandemic when a lot of people aren’t working but we’re still making sure they’re at least fed.”
People can make monetary donations to the food pantry at the church website http://www.missionfumc.com/. The next distribution date for the food pantry is Thursday, Dec. 4