Southern Brazoria County food pantries already are seeing triple the number of clients seeking asisstance since the acceleration of COVID-19’s impact on the region, and several are working together to ensure no one goes hungry.
“The event has no economic barriers right now,” Brazosport Cares Executive Director Christy Frey said, meaning normal income guidelines have been waived. “I think people that were fine are going to find themselves in low income with their money.”
The Freeport food pantry has seen its three times as many families as usual come seeking food, Frey said. During two and a half hour windows Tuesday and Thursday, the organization helped about 500 people each day through drive-thru service, she said.
Twenty more disaster pallets from the Houston Food Bank will be delivered today, along with Super Bowl of Caring donations from H-E-B, “so Monday we’ll be stocked up,” Frey said.
Brazosport Cares is collaborating with the Food Basket and Brazoria County Dream Center, both in Clute, to make sure there’s enough for everyone, Development Associate Nicole Larson said.
“The three of us — we’re committed and continuing to work together to help the community, and if we can get the community to support the three of us, we would really appreciate it,” Larson said.
One community partner already has stepped up to offer assistance.
Freeport LNG announced donations Friday of $20,000 each to Brazosport Cares and Brazoria County Dream Center to help provide the community with food service and other basic life needs.
“People who have never needed assistance before might very well find themselves there now,” Wendy Mazurkiewicz, Freeport LNG’s director of community affairs, said in a news release. “Brazosport Cares and the Brazoria County Dream Center are both well positioned to provide the critical services that our community needs.”
Also stepping up are each of the school districts across the county. Under normal circumstances, school districts would be providing their students with breakfast and lunch. During the unexpected school closures that followed spring break, districts are making sure they’re still able to offer those meals.
Angleton ISD, Brazosport ISD, Sweeny ISD and Columbia-Brazoria ISD already served thousands of meals to students and family members. Each school district is able to offer two meals at one time: a lunch meal, usually hot, and a cold breakfast for the next day.
Angleton ISD’s program has been particularly effective. More than 2,600 meals were distributed Friday from three buses that make the rounds of dozens of neighborhoods, and the demand has been so great, the district is adding a fourth bus starting today and a second pickup location next week.
“There is still a huge need in our community,” Angleton ISD Child Nutrition Director Amy Anderson said in a new release. “We are met every day with appreciation and excitement. It’s really quite humbling to see.”
The food for the meal service is purchased through the districts’ usual suppliers, and by following strict federal guidelines, serving anyone 18 and younger who are present to receive the food, the districts can be reimbursed for each meal, Sweeny ISD Superintendent Tory Hill said.
Dow Chemical Co. donated $2,500 to Brazosport ISD, which its Child Nutrition Department will use to purchase three pieces of specialized machinery to assist staff with packing meals for students, according to a news release.
“They are always here giving back to our schools, supporting our students and staff,” Brazosport ISD Child Nutrition Director Rachel Arthur said of Dow.
The districts offer some limited delivery services and multiple locations where people can come to get food daily.
Angleton ISD is serving at the junior high school in addition to the regular bus routes, Superintendent Phil Edwards said.
Brazosport ISD also plans to add more serving sites this week, Superintendent Danny Massey said. Already, the district has been serving at four schools and busing food to four neighborhoods in the Brazosport area, he said.
Columbia-Brazoria ISD is feeding at each of their three elementary schools and offers a limited delivery system for parents who have notified district officials of hardship, Superintendent Steven Galloway said.
“We’re feeding people that need help,” Galloway said.
Sweeny ISD continues to offer curbside pickup or home-delivery meals, but the district is thinking up a game plan to meet the needs of students in the event contact with the public has to be further limited, Hill said.
“Sweeny ISD will continue to ensure that we meet the needs of every one of our students during this trying time so we will do our very best to ensure their social, emotional, physical, and academic needs are met during this time of closure,” Hill said.