It’s a hot Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Bank at Bassett Place in Central El Paso. Cars are lined up in the parking lot waiting for a food distribution that will begin shortly. Under a shaded canopy, volunteers eagerly anticipate what will soon become an endless drive-thru of people in cars seeking food assistance. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten people’s health and well-being, many families in El Paso are facing a summer they never expected.
To provide relief to the many families struggling to put food on their table, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger teamed up with Wells Fargo to transform their bank parking lot into a mobile distribution center. The drive-up model is an effective means to minimize contact between people needing food and volunteers working the front line. This model of distribution requires the pre-packing of food boxes to make the distribution efficient for serving hundreds of families at a time.
The Drive-Up Food Bank program is an example of the synergy between EPFH and Wells Fargo—using their wide range of resources to help people who are at risk of hunger.
“No one should have to choose between feeding their family or other basic necessities,” said Wells Fargo Community Relations Consultant Jerry Romero. “Wells Fargo has a long-standing commitment to helping our local communities - especially during challenging times. The Wells Fargo Drive-Up Food Bank program builds on Wells Fargo’s decades’ long involvement in fighting food insecurity and represents just one of the ways the bank is working. We are part of the communities we operate in. That’s why we’re using our resources – from our financial scale and branch network – to help people in need.”
The pandemic’s impact on the economy and local businesses has been consequential. Borderland residents are experiencing the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. El Pasoans Fighting Hunger is seeing a significant increase in demand as more families are showing up to food distributions throughout the city for the first time.
“I think it’s affected our community a lot. I mean, there’s a lot of people unemployed—a lot of people stressing over what to do,” said Corina Magallanes—an El Paso resident seeking food assistance for the first time.
Her greatest need concerning her household is to pay bills and stay healthy during the pandemic and economic downturn. Although times are challenging, the food Corina receives will help out her family significantly.
“I work from home, thank God. So, just been doing that and trying to get through things. You guys are doing a great thing for our community. You really are, it’s awesome,” she added.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic EPFH has distributed more than 800,000 emergency food boxes. They are distributing, on average, about 15 million pounds of food per month and are on pace to hit 100 million pounds for the year. The increased number reflects the drastic need within the El Paso community.
Unfortunately, EPFH has seen its food supply diminish. But, with the commitment of dedicated staff, donors, volunteers and community partners like Wells Fargo, they’ve managed to step up to the challenge and fulfill the food demand across the region. Although the fight against hunger does not end there, volunteers and donations are needed now more than ever. Now is the time to be looking out for your neighbors in need.
If you are in need or know someone in need of food assistance, please visit: elpasoansfightinghunger.org
Recipients visiting the food distribution site at Well Fargo Bank Bassett Center are encouraged to arrive at the site and line up no earlier than 12:00 noon on distribution days. Due to the tremendous success of the food distribution more than 4,000 households have been served so far.
However the success of the drive-up food bank program is resulting in heavy traffic on Saturdays in and around the mobile distribution site located at 6175 Gateway Blvd W in the Bassett Place Mall complex.
Let’s be good neighbors and get everyone served efficiently.
***Distribution at this location will conclude on October 17, 2020.***