Community receives more than 1k grocery bags as part of United Against Hunger

Roberto Palomo grabs a bag of food for one of the vehicles waiting in line Friday for United Way of Southern Cameron County’s food distribution event at Besteiro Elementary School.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Hundreds of cars lined up early Friday morning outside Besteiro Middle School for the free grocery bag distribution “United Against Hunger” by United Way of Southern Cameron County. Over 1,000 bags filled with peanut butter jars, juices, cans and more items were given to the community in need.

Over 12,000 bags have been distributed since late April when the first distribution took place. Officials said1,600 bags of food have been distributed weekly via Brownsville Wellness Coalition’s mini distributions and United Against Hunger weekly Friday mass distributions.

“Over 200 volunteers have attended the distributions with corporate teams such as: Chick-Fil-A Boca Chica, Brownsville Navigation/ Port of Brownsville, Valley Baptist Medical Center, Valley Regional Medical Center, CSL Plasma, St. Mary’s School, CASA, County Clerk’s Office, Judge Eddie Treviño’s Office, City of Brownsville volunteers, St. Joseph Academy, Law office of Trey Martinez & UWSCC Loaned Executives,” Wendy De Leon, development and communication director said.

De Leon added the UAH food distribution will continue through July every two weeks and they are hoping to be able to continue them through the end of the year.

“Currently, we have two funders waiting in the wings, both have solicited proposals to fund the continuation of this work, and if we are successful in making them dovetail we could have uninterrupted funding through the end of the year,” she said.

UAH also hired 125 furloughed employees at $10 an hour through the Get Shift Done initiative to work at mass distributions and nonprofit agencies targeting food insecurity in the city and county, De Leon said.

“Each UAH weekly mass distribution hires 20 GSD workers,” she said. “UAH has added capacity to GNSH and Ozanam pantries by sending 14 GSD workers daily to assist by providing supplies and by distributing 600 hot meals and over 220 pantry bags, weekly.”

Veronica Dimas-Rosenbaum, executive director for the Brownsville Wellness Coalition, said the organizations that have come together to continue funding this want to make sure the food being distributed is healthy for the community. The Coalition shares recipes with the food the community receives as part of this program on their Facebook page to give more ideas on how to eat healthier.

“Currently it’s really important that we understand the food that we are giving, because we want to make sure that everyone during this pandemic stays healthy,” she said.

The next food distribution will take place at 8 a.m. Friday July 24 at the Brownsville Events Center.

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