Food distributions by United Way continue to draw thousands

Volunteers work quickly in the rain to load cars with bags of food Friday morning for the United Way of Southern Cameron County’s weekly food distribution outside the Brownsville Event Center.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Hundreds of cars started to lineup at approximately 3 a.m. Friday at the Brownsville Event Center to receive fresh produce and groceries at the United Against Hunger weekly mass distribution.

Officials said thousands of bags of food have been distributed since April 24 as a way for United Way of Southern Cameron County to help those who need it the most.

Wendy De Leon, development and communication director at UWSCC, said they have distributed 1,600 bags of food weekly via Brownsville Wellness Coalitions mini distributions, census committee distributions and United Against Hunger weekly mass distribution. She said more than 30,000 food pantry bags have been distributed since they started the program.

“ United Against Hunger has [also] distributed over 31,000 hot meals to individuals in need,” she said.

The food distribution will continue weekly until the end of the year as the agency works to secure enough funding. De Leon added the program reaches about 2,000 families weekly via pantry bags and 900 individuals via hot meals.

She added over 400 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, Cameron County, County Clerk’s office, Judge Eddie Trevino Jr.’s office, City of Brownsville volunteers, St. Joseph Academy, and the Law office of Trey Martinez & UWSCC Loaned Executives.

Traci Wickett, President and CEO at UWSCC, said these are some of the toughest times the community has experienced. She said now that the $300 per week unemployment bonus has run out, it will be harder for families to put food on their tables.

“ United Way of Southern Cameron County and our partners are blessed to be doing this work during some of the toughest times we’ve ever experienced in our community. Food insecurity is real for way too many families, and it will probably get worse before it gets better,” she said.

“ The $300 per week unemployment bonus has run out, so families without work will find it even harder to put food on the table starting this week.”

United Against Hunger has also hired more than 170 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 county. De Leon said each weekly mass distribution hires 20 GSD workers.

Employees from this program are also sent to the Good Neighbor Settlement House and Ozanam pantries to assist by providing supplies and distributing 900 hot meals and over 300 pantry bags weekly.

To donate, visit unitedwayrgv.org.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com