Fort Worth church, food bank distribute free groceries to families in need

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A church in Fort Worth partnered with a mobile food pantry Tuesday to provide groceries to furloughed workers affected by the government shutdown.

The Tarrant Area Food Bank distributed groceries to 200 families at Southcliff Baptist Church.

“The government shutdown ended, but these people are still impacted by that,” said Dr. Carroll Marr, a senior pastor. “What we don’t realize sometimes is that though they get a paycheck later on down the road, they still need money to put gas in their car to get to work.”

The food distribution was scheduled to run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Javiera Gonzalez, who works in the Agency Services Department for the food bank, said they’ve been partnering with the church for about five years.

Gonzalez said they decided to do a mobile food pantry because those usually receive a greater turnout.

Families started at the first station, filling out a short, simple form.

“Mobile food pantries only require them to provide their name and how many household members are in the house, so there’s no barriers,” Gonzalez said.

The families turned in their forms at the second station, followed by the third station, where they picked out their groceries.

A fourth station was available to register for food stamps.

Ethan Smith, a volunteer, said he was at the church by 3:30 p.m. helping set up. Smith loaded families’ vehicles half an hour later when the food distribution officially kicked off.

However, Stu Cocanougher, a pastor at the church, said there was a rush of families in need before organizers were even ready to start. They arrived so early they had to wait until things were in order.

Tuesday’s event wasn’t just a major reaction to the government shutdown; Southcliff does this on a regular basis.

Marr said the church provides food for more than 200 students that take English as a second language (ESL) classes Tuesday nights.

The last wave of people that collected food were the ESL students who were coming out of class.

The 7,000 pounds of food was mostly gone by 5 p.m.

“We exist to become the hands and feet of Jesus and to reach out to as many people as we can,” Marr said. “It doesn’t concern us why they are there, it just concerns us that they are and that we can make a difference and help them any way we can.”