LA FERIA, Texas — Hungry families across the Rio Grande Valley have turned to food pantries, local churches, and anywhere they can feed their loved ones amid the COVID-19 economic crisis.
La Feria Police tell CBS4/Local 23 News, homeowners near the Centro Internacional De Alabanza church on 7th Street are fed up with the traffic and their driveways being blocked by families looking for food.
“The location where it’s at it’s a little tight for people to come in there and get their goods but we are dealing with the traffic in the neighborhood,” explained Police Chief Cesar Diaz with a bit of frustration “we’re dealing with the traffic on FM506 which is blocking the main roadway”
The families many according to Pastor Ronaldo Ortiz are desperate for food and will wait hours for anything
“I never foresaw something like this,” said Ortiz.
Two years ago, Pastor Ortiz and Mercy Food Pantry turned the parking lot into an extension of the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank as a distribution center.
When the economy tanked and schools closed, the parking lot became a beacon of hope. More families, more cars and more traffic.
The church and police are working together but tensions are high with the homeowners and suggested the operation move locations, Pastor Ortiz and Mercy Food Pantry volunteer Norma Fuentes tell CBS4/Local 23 News, that’s not possible.
“A lot of people already know where we are located and I feel like people are not going to find us. I feel like they’re going to be lost and we don’t want that food that we receive on that day go to waste.”
Another challenge is coordination and communication, Pastor Ortiz, Mercy, and the police chief have less than hours to prepare for food trucks to drop off because on any given day, the shipment isn’t every day and they are called on the day of delivery.
“I have two or three officers on patrol at a time” said Chief Diaz.
The challenges are great; a growing number of hungry families, the COVID-19 social grouping guidelines limits to only 10 volunteers, an unpredictable schedule, limited officers on duty and frustrated homeowners, is a heavyweight to carry, but Pastor Ortiz offers those fortunate enough to have a home, food and a driveway to have empathy.
“They are more than welcome to come by that is what we are all about,” said Ortiz.