By Rebecca Jung
For some, Thanksgiving means turkey and stretch pants, but for others, it means despair and hunger.
Dave’s Burger Barn, located on 600 N Patricia St. is working to help those families. “We will be opening the restaurant doors to anyone in need who would like a free traditional Thanksgiving meal,” Tim Quiroz, owner and operator of Dave’s Burger Barn, said. “Food will be offered from 11 to 2 p.m.”
Dave’s Burger Barn was opened in September 2009 by Quiroz’s mother and stepfather. Quiroz purchased the restaurant from them a few years back and since has been growing the business to what it is today. “This is the first year for the ‘feast of thanksgiving’,” Quiroz said. “I just opened my new restaurant in February, so this is the first time to have the new seating capacity to fit large groups of people.”
Quiroz has large plans for this event. “Since this is my first year doing it, my goal is to help feed at least 500 people,” Quiroz said. “ I hope that this event can only get bigger and become an annual thing for the city of Waco.”
Recent numbers indicate that this is a needed service. The North Texas Food Bank that serves Dallas and surrounding areas services 1,000 feeding programs and 262 partner agencies. “Our newest numbers indicate that nearly 800,000 people in a 13-county area of North Texas are unsure of where their next meal will come from” Jeffrey Clapper, Communications manager for the NTFB, said. “This means one in five adults and one in four children are hungry or food insecure in our 13-county service area.”
Recently, food banks have seen a spike in service needs. “The SNAP cuts that happened on November 1st, which average $36 for a family of four, have driven up our demand for food,” Clapper said. “Most food banks will see a spike in demand during the holiday season. In addition to these spikes in demand, any time a child is out of school, we see an increase in demand for food. Why? Most school districts provide free or reduced breakfast and lunch, and for many of these children, those are the only two meals they get per day. Thus, families out of school tend to go to their local pantry to make up for the lost meals.”
Data provided by Adele Brady at the Houston food bank indicates similar needs in its service area. Zavala County, located only four hours away from Waco, has the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation and several other counties in Texas rank among the highest in the nation, Brady said.
Dave’s is partnering with other companies to make this feast possible. In addition to members of the community who are volunteering time and money, Quiroz said that Dave’s is partnering with several businesses in Waco, such as Hornet Signs, T&M Contracting, US Foods, Mrs. Bairds, and Hillcrest Hospital. Quiroz said any Baylor students interested in helping could donate items such as three-compartment plates, plastic silverware, napkins and similar items. Dave’s is also welcoming volunteers to help serve, clean and deliver meals.
He attended Baylor in 2004, and is responsible for creating the “Zipper Ripper” at Dave’s in 2010.