The East Texas Food Bank and T.L.L. Temple Foundation distributed 670 emergency boxes of food to people in need in Lufkin on Thursday.
“It’s been an hour and a half, and we’re out of food,” food bank CEO Dennis Cullinane said. “It’s painful — we thought we brought twice as much as we needed. We knew that there was a lot of need, but it’s a lot more heartbreaking than we originally thought.”
Traffic was backed up well past the underpass on Kurth Drive and quite a way down Lofton Street by 4:20 p.m. as the boxes began to run thin.
“We had an overwhelming turnout,” T.L.L. Temple Foundation president and CEO Wynn Rosser said. “There were families over the number (of boxes) we had available. We’ll be back; we’ll do this again. We know it’s an uncertain time for folks, and food is one of those things that if you have that, well, they call it comfort food for a reason.”
Cullinane and Rosser said they will have a second distribution from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at the George H. Henderson Jr. Exposition Center and will likely have more beyond that. They will announce future dates as the plans solidify.
“This food means a whole lot,” Barbara Wilmon said. “I’m disabled, and all of us in the car is disabled. This is a good thing they’re doing. We appreciate it.”
The COVID-19, coronavirus has not affected Wilmon’s family so far, but she said she hopes to the Lord that it is over soon. Stella Huitt said that other than decreased hours at work, the epidemic hasn’t affected her family yet.
“This helps us not have to get in the grocery stores and run out of food and tissue and all this other stuff,” Huitt said. “When I go, I barely get one roll because that’s all that’s left. That coronavirus hasn’t hit my family yet, and I pray to the Lord every night that it doesn’t.”
The boxes contain shelf-stable groceries such as dried beans, rice, pasta and canned meat, fruits and vegetables, with enough for 20 meals.
Cullinane encouraged the community to support their local food pantries. The East Texas Food Bank takes donations on its website, easttexasfoodbank.org, and helps distribute food to Angelina County.
For more information on Angelina County food pantries, visit easttexasfoodbank.org, click on “I Need Food” and search Angelina County. Monetary donations and volunteers are needed.
“This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” Cullinane said. “This isn’t going to go away very soon.”