Unlike where I come from, hunger is an unspoken problem here in Texas. Hunger is seen, felt and heard on the streets of my home state of California and native homeland of Hawaii. In visible and vocal ways, communities rally to feed the hungry by volunteering at food pantries and mobile food trucks. Until recently, I wasn’t aware that hunger is an issue here too.
A year ago, I spent a week serving hot soup and fresh bread to the homeless and hungry of New York City. While there I learned about the needs of the hungry in the metropolitan areas of Dallas/Fort Worth that are often swept out of sight. Then I learned that hunger was even closer to me.
On the third Saturday of every month, a truck loaded with fresh food pulls into the Fire Station at Maypearl, Texas. Volunteers are on hand to unload milk, juice, fruits, veggies and whole chickens onto a makeshift assembly line. At the same time, other volunteers load up food to take to back to Waxahachie.
As certified agents of the Feed America Program, the publishers and partners of URBANwell Magazine purchase and distribute food through mobile means because everyone deserves fresh food. It requires a serious amount of paperwork and partnership. It’s a labor intensive process but equally rewarding. On average, 300 families receive much needed help each month.
A punch card system was created to streamline the entire process, especially given the Texas heat. This allows volunteers like Matti B. to greet each family, quickly punch their card and keep them moving through the line. The entire process is painless and fast.
What’s become the URBANwell Pantry Express actually began a few years back. At one time, Maypearl Fire Station was one of six locations served by a nonprofit organization in Cleburne. When the original nonprofit ran into tough times, URBANwell Magazine was asked to become the new sponsor.
From the start, URBANwell has relied upon partners like Stephen Wilson in Maypearl; and in Waxahachie, partners like Josh Morgan from Connect 4 Life Church and Mike Shaw from God’s City God’s Church and What’s Happening Now Ministries. Over time, partners have become friends who serve alongside each other with joy and laughter.
At the end of the line, John D., breaks down the empty boxes and hauls them off. John is the kind of guy we like to call “urban folk.” From bagging chicken to breaking down boxes, he’s all about faith, culture and community.
Now that I know the hunger exists here, on the third Saturday of each month, our family will be making time to do our part in making a difference. We invite you to join the fight against hunger with URBANwell Pantry Express.
By the way, if you ever join us, either to volunteer or simply because you are in need of some fresh foods, be sure to wave and blow a kiss to the parking lot attendant – the famous and fabulous Mr. Maypearl!