Brownsville food drive helps residents amid inflation

A drive-thru emergengy program distribution is held in Brownsville at the Brownsville Events Center as Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, Inc., Brownsville Wellness Coalition and United Way of Southern Cameron County unite to put food on the table for families in need throughout the community. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

The Brownsville Wellness Coalition Food Bank RGV and United Way of Southern Cameron County helped local families Friday during a drive-thru emergency food distribution drive at the Brownsville Events Center.

There, about 19 volunteers handed out 1,000 packages of food.

“One of the main goals is to distribute protein and produce along with canned goods,” Jessica Molina, wellness coordinator for the Brownsville Wellness coalition, told The Brownsville Herald. “Today we’re going to be distributing cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, the 20-pound bags of food, chicken, cereal, pineapple and some hand sanitizer.”

Starting at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, these events happen every other Friday in Brownsville with changing locations. Being recently approved to keep the food drives going for another two months until August, they will revisit the program and hopefully bring it back for a couple more months, Molina said.

“The items that I mentioned, everyone will get one of each and that will be considered one package,” Molina said. “So, the system is very simple. Just get up in line, we go to your car ask you, ‘how many families do you have?’ … When we ask how many families do you have, it’s not how many people are in your family. If it’s a family of four, clearly that’s one family, but if your family is six or eight, you’d be considered two families. So, don’t be ashamed to say two families, this is what we have the food for.”

The limit was set at two packages per car, though.

With people at recent food events lining up the night before, Molina said she does not encourage staying overnight to secure a spot.

“We don’t encourage that because we have enough food,” Molina said. “If you come in the morning, there’ll be food for you. Also, for their safety and everyone’s safety, we don’t encourage them to stay here overnight. We can’t have [the police department] out here since the night before.”

According to the Consumer Price Index data for May, released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, food-at-home prices increased 11.9% over the past year, the largest 12-month increase since April 1979, with the monthly food-at- home index rising 1.4% in May, up from a 1% increase recorded in April.

Asked how important it is to have food drives amid rising prices for food items, Molina replied: “It’s huge. These are items that families can definitely use. We want to be an outlet to help fill that food insecurity. We don’t want kids to go hungry. We understand prices are going up, but paychecks aren’t going up. So it’s hard for families to make ends meet.”

Noah Barnard, a San Benito native who volunteered for his second time at the food drive Friday, said such efforts felt very fulfilling, being able to give back to the community.

“With everything rising, it’s just like vitally important,” Barnard said. “Some people wouldn’t be able to survive without these types of food drives. It’s really affecting a lot of people. There’s rising rents in Brownsville as well, so programs like these are becoming more and more important.”

Barnard said the best thing about volunteering for the first time two weeks ago was giving out watermelons and being able to see the gratitude in people’s faces.

Molina, who experienced food insecurity in her childhood, said she believes it is a blessing to be a blessing to others, and she encouraged others to volunteer or donate if they can.

“Come and see the change that you can make in people’s lives,” she said. “Come and see what is actually going on. Not everybody knows what is really going on in our city. Either they choose to turn their face away or they’re ignorant to it. And that’s OK, we’re here to educate also.”

The next food drive will be held July 1, with a location to be determined. The drive will start at 8 am and continue while supplies last.

For information on the upcoming food drive or how to volunteer or donate, visit the organization’s Facebook page at Brownsville Wellness Coalition or its Instagram: @brownsvillewellnesscoalition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.