Sam Pearce, executive director of The Helping Center of Marble Falls, unloads donated bread for distribution to clients. The food pantry is located at 1315 Broadway in Marble Falls. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Picayune Magazine and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune Food Drive on Wednesday, November 11, matters more than ever this year, according to the operators of two local food pantries. Donations for LACare Food Bank in Burnet and The Helping Center of Marble Falls will be accepted from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Burnet Fire Station, 2002 S. Water St. in Burnet and the Marble Falls Fire Station, 700 Avenue N in Marble Falls.
“This food drive gets us through Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said LACare Executive Director Lottie McCorkle. “Donations of any non-perishable food would be fabulous — or money. One is as important as the other. One pays for our bills, the other puts groceries on our shelves.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the staples that food pantries purchase in bulk are no longer available for distribution to a growing client base of newly unemployed and underemployed.
“A lot of the hams, for example, are hard to get for the holidays,” said Sam Pearce, executive director of The Helping Center of Marble Falls. “Spaghetti, things like that, we can’t buy in bulk like we used to, so we are more dependent on donations.”
LACare faces the same issue.
“Normally, we would have a shelf with Thanksgiving food on it, but we’re not able to this year,” McCorkle said. “We won’t have anything extra in the way of special Thanksgiving foods unless they come in through donations.”
McCorkle said the pantry also needs cases of Ramen noodles, canned chili, and instant potatoes.
“We can’t go to H-E-B and purchase them because H-E-B doesn’t have them (in bulk) right now,” McCorkle explained.
The organizations also buy groceries from the Central Texas Food Bank, which is the largest hunger-relief agency in Central Texas. It serves 21 counties, including Burnet, Blanco, Llano, and Travis. All counties are seeing an increase in need. In Burnet, the number of people picking up groceries curbside at LACare has more than doubled since COVID-19 restrictions closed restaurants and businesses and shut down events.
“Mainly, it’s families with children,” McCorkle said. “They are out of work, or, if they do have work, their hours have been drastically reduced.”
Clients can no longer go inside either food bank to pick out their own groceries. Bags of food are pre-packaged and brought out to cars in the parking lot. The new set up gets the job done, but something important is missing from the arrangement, Pearce said.
“We provide physical food, but our ability to provide spiritual food is hurting,” he continued. “I’ll be out there praying with someone in the parking lot — we’re out on the streets, literally — but they can’t come in the office to sit down and talk. We can’t share the same space together.”
That situation won’t be fixed until COVID-19 dies out or a vaccine is available, but the issue of feeding the body and spirit through giving is still possible by participating in the November 11 food drive.
“Our community is a great giving community,” said Ed Chandler, host of KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune’s “Wake Up Show.” “At the end of the day, when I see all the stacks of food we’ve gathered there, it makes my heart warm seeing how we are helping people who need it this time of year.”
The drive grows bigger each year, Chandler said. With two drop-off locations, some friendly competition breaks out between dueling hosts. While Chandler drives the action at the Marble Falls location, Ben Shields works to inspire donors in Burnet. Shields is also a KBEY on-air personality and host of “Sounds of Texas,” which airs 6-9 p.m. on Sundays. Chandler hosts the morning show from 6-10 a.m. Monday-Friday.
“It’s a friendly competition,” Chandler said. “In the end, everybody wins.”
To participate, bring your food and/or money donations to either of the two locations. No need to leave your car. A friendly Picayune staff member will be on hand to unload the goods.
While The Picayune Magazine and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune Food Drive collects non-perishable food and money donations for LACare Food Bank in Burnet and The Helping Center of Marble Falls, other local food pantries need help, too. You can give to any individual food pantry or to the Burnet County Hunger Alliance, a volunteer group that coordinates all existing resources in its quest to provide three healthy meals a day to anyone in Burnet County who needs it.