Members of the Air National Guard distribute food boxes at the GRACE Grocery Giveaway.

“We build strength with the communities we serve.” One of the mottos of the Air National Guard (ANG) has helped GRACE sustain the day-in, day-out duties of providing assistance to those impacted by COVID-19.

GRACE is normally a volunteer-driven agency with scores of people serving volunteer capacities throughout all GRACE sites. Since mid-March, and only recently with a select group of volunteers returning, GRACE has been running with staff only.

At the same time, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic nearly tripled the need for services over the same time last year. Into this situation stepped a squadron of ANG members to help.

GRACE was very honored to be selected as one of the assignments the Wing accepted in the North Texas area. The work accomplished by this group of dedicated people most certainly helped build strength in the community, and gave many GRACE families the food and supplies to sustain them through the worst of the crisis.

Staff Sergeant Tamara Dabney and her crew worked closely with the GRACE Food Pantry and the hunger-fighting sector of the GRACE mission. They were, literally, the boots on the ground at the Memorial Day GRACE Grocery Giveaway at the Community Outreach Center.

GRACE traditionally provides holiday meal distributions for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, with concerns about exposure to COVID-19, the first-ever Memorial Day distribution provided food and supplies for the three-day weekend.

For nearly two months, the GRACE Food Pantry swapped its self-select grocery-store style service for a drive-up curbside plan. Tamara and her team made sure the flow proceeded orderly with very little back-up. Tons of food were boxed, organized, and moved to the delivery area adjacent to the Food Pantry building.

With so many people within our community willing to help with food donations, the ANG group helped sort and organize thousands of boxes, bags, jars, and packages of non-perishable food, hygiene and cleaning products, infant supplies, and other essentials in the heat and distanced conditions of the warehouse.

Even knowing the food inventory numbering into the thousands of units only represented about two weeks’ worth of stock for the GRACE Pantry,  the ANG squadron understood their work was a tremendous support for the staff who were constantly restocking distribution boxes and provisions for the stream of client families coming through the Food Pantry parking lot.

The Air National Guard is stationed at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base and attached to the 136th Airlift Wing. During times of conflict and for peace-time training, the Wing’s mission focuses on delivering equipment and supplies.

The Wing’s airlift mission employs huge C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop aircraft in a diverse number of roles, including airlift support, Antarctic resupply, medical missions, weather recon, aerial spray missions, firefighting duties with the U.S. Forest Services, and natural disaster relief.

We humbly thank the Air National Guard for their service at the GRACE sites, and all throughout North Texas for helping to build strength with the communities we serve.

For more information about the GRACE Food Pantry please contact Keith Hills, Food Pantry Manager, at 817-305-4677.