GRACE Food Pantry manager Rusty Thigpen reported Christmas meal baskets were furnished to 313 families over the two-day distribution last week. That number, added to the November Thanksgiving meal baskets that went to 424 families, and holiday feasts were provided to a total of 737 families this year.
In addition, Food Pantry volunteers delivered 96 baskets to the homes of seniors last week, and 94 baskets went out at Thanksgiving, for a total 190 families.
In all, 927 families received holiday feasts through the Food Pantry this season, nearly matching the total from the 2015 distribution of 932. With the tracking system now used at the Food Pantry, Rusty and his Pantry volunteers knew almost exactly what to expect this year.
“This year is on par with our three-year average of 926 per year,” said Rusty. Current tracking encompasses the years of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Before that, baskets provided to seniors and regular food vouchers were embedded in November and December statistics.
“Our tracking [system] gives us the ability to count every food item given out,” said Rusty. It also allows for truer comparisons year over year. “Literally, apples-to-apples,” he added.
Rusty also praised the work of his Pantry Volunteers, and all others who were involved with the holiday distributions.
Over the course of the three-day Thanksgiving distribution, 114 volunteers served nearly 250 hours. A large unexpected delivery from a local food drive early in the morning of the first day, added some excitement, according to Rusty.
Extra volunteers were called in at 8 a.m. that morning, said Rusty, “To bag everything in time for the two o’clock distribution.”
There were no such “surprises” last week, and 92 volunteers helped pass out the turkeys, hams and holiday meal menu items. In all, volunteers gave nearly 200 hours over the two-day event. But the impact of GRACE volunteers and donors doesn’t stop there.
Either directly through food drives, or indirectly, through cash contributions, “donors provide nearly all of the basket contents,” said Rusty. Providing holiday food baskets to GRACE clients is a “perfect match of donors and volunteers.”
Now that the holidays are behind us, Rusty wanted to remind, “The Pantry shelves are getting pretty bare.” All donations tend to lessen in January and February but, “our clients get hungry just the same,” he said.
Food donations are gratefully accepted at the GRACE Food Pantry, 837 East Walnut Street in Grapevine. Hours are 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday.