Food drive reaches out to Wacoans

Nine food pantries around the Central Texas area are joining together this upcoming Friday to collect food for families across the state. Known as Food For Families, this one-day event is the largest food drive in Texas.

Caritas is one of the nine agencies in the community that will benefit from this food drive and help provide food for Waco area families.

Caritas provides food for 100 families a day. They supply around 70 pounds of food per each family daily, therefore estimating about 35,000 pounds of food a week, Monday through Friday. Food For Families collects an estimated 400,000 pounds of food for the Waco area, which only last Caritas for a few months.

The directive executive of Caritas of Waco, Buddy Edwards, said the food drive alone will not be enough to stock the shelves for the whole year, but it helps them out tremendously.

“It is a huge effort that really benefits us and our clients, without it we would be much worse off,” Edwards said.

The Food For Families food drive will be collecting their donations at KWTX-TV station at 6700 American Plaza in Waco. Donations will be taken from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Those who visit grocery stores during that day can also opt to buy a food extra items and have those items be donated right at the store.

Top items that are need include any type of canned meats, canned vegetables, cereals, pastas, and sauces. All items must be nonperishable. Baking items such as flour, sugar, and corn meal are also encouraged.

“A third of the Waco population lives in poverty, and 50 percent of the population live within 200 percent of the federal income guidelines for poverty. It’s a community wide issue we have to address,” directive executive of Caritas of Waco, Buddy Edwards said.

Director of Municipal Information for the city of Waco, Larry Holze, said the focus on poverty in Waco is in accordance with the Prosper Waco plan led by Matthew Polk. This plan addresses three core areas that need focused concern. Health, education and financial literacy are all three dependent on each other, Holze said. The Food For Families food drive focuses on the health aspect of the trio, ensuring that families are nourshed in order to be successful in education and financial literacy.

Edwards said that Waco has a huge food insecurity problem.

“Individuals who do not know for sure if they will have tomorrow’s breakfast, or tonight’s meal for supper, it is very very disruptive in people’s lives. It creates a lot of pressure and lots of anxiety when you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from, you are very concerned about that,” Edwards said.

Edwards said that there are lots of issues with children, particularly in the Waco ISD, as many of these students are on the free lunch program. These students are often supplied a backpack from Caritas to take home with them for the weekend, filled with food items.

“There is a great issue of hunger within our community, that’s why Food For Families goes a long way in helping us get the word out about the problem, but also looking at ways we can better address it,” Edwards said.

After the food drive is over, there will be a significant need to help pack and sort food items so they can be distributed to the participating food pantries. Volunteers who wish to help Caritas with the sorting process are encouraged to call 753-4593.

The community and public is invited to help Waco in its fight for hunger relief, especially as the holiday season is approaching. But Caritas wishes to remind everyone that there is no slack time throughout the whole year. This issue is one that presents itself constantly and is not one that just needs special attention during the holidays.

“This isn’t just a holiday issue, hunger is around the whole year,” Edwards said.