COVID-19 leads to huge surge in demand at Alief food pantry

ALIEF (KTRK) -- Our community's non-profit agencies are seeing more people than ever who need help. For many, this is the first time in their lives they have had to ask for assistance.

My Brother's Keeper Outreach Center in Alief is one of the agencies that will benefit from this year's NFL Draft-a-Thon, a fundraiser for COVID-19 Relief Efforts.

"The benefactor of the Draft-a-Thon in Houston will be the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund," said Jamey Rootes, President of the Houston Texans. "We'll be providing food, medical services and housing for those who are most at risk in our community, the ones that are most vulnerable."

"With My Brother's Keeper, our name stems from the mindset that we're resilient in the face of adversity," said program manager Dylan Nelson. "So Houston, we know that you're hurting, but we're here to help out our neighbors, our brothers and sisters who need help."

My Brother's Keeper offers a full-sized food pantry that offers clients both perishable and non-perishable foods.

"We offer a full-sized food pantry that provides perishable and non-perishable foods," said Renae Johnson, CEO of My Brother's Keeper. "Our clients are able to come once within a 30-day period and they receive about two weeks' worth of groceries. We also do financial assistance for rent or utilities. During this pandemic, it's a great deal more than what we're used to on a daily basis."

Right now, the outreach center is operating a drive-thru food distribution service.

"To keep that six-foot distance, we have volunteers that put the pre-made bags in their trunk," said Johnson. "They don't even have to get out."

"We've seen a bigger increase," added Nelson. "It's a little over 100 families a day with anywhere from five to seven people averaging in each family."

According to Nelson, the dry goods pantry at My Brother's Keeper was filled with things like bagged rice and pasta just three weeks ago. Now, the shelves are nearly bare. As word spreads about My Brother's Keeper, the non-profit is seeing many new clients.

"I have lived here for the last 25 years, and never have wondered what's going on here," said first-time client George Sanchez. "This is the first time I stopped by. There's a lot of people who, this will be very, very helpful to them."

"My friend told me about it, and yes, right now, we do need it for them," said another first-time client Jennifer Menado, as she drove up with her children. "We don't have a job right now or an income to buy food and everything like that. I really appreciate them."

The non-profit is in need of both monetary donations and canned food or non-perishable food items.

For more information on how you can donate to the Draft-a-Thon or receive assistance, click here.
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