Refuge Corporation’s mobile food bank distributes food on Saturday
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A line flowed through the parking lot beside This ‘N That Thrift store on Avenue D, and stretched around the corner and into the alley behind the building on Saturday morning.
Making up the line were hundreds of people who came to Refuge Corporation’s bimonthly mobile food bank in Copperas Cove, held from 9 a.m. until noon.
Joseph Solomon, the executive director of Refuge Corporation, said they ordered 5,000 pounds of food from the Central Texas Food Bank and also brought more than 1,000 pounds of food the nonprofit already had for distribution.
Since March 2017, Refuge Corporation has held a mobile food bank event every month, alternating between Copperas Cove and Killeen.
“We wanted to extend our Thanksgiving program, and Ms. Doris (McCready) is here because we’re getting ready to be part of Food For Families. We went to a meeting this week, and put our application in so we can be recipients of that, and so people can be recipients,” Solomon said. “We just love helping people. That’s what it’s all about.”
Solomon said that over the last three to four months, the mobile food banks assisted an average of 267 families, with an average of 769 individuals served per event.
After completing an intake form, providing a household or individual’s information, such as if they receive government supplemental programs or not, those needing food received canned fruit and vegetables, along with other pantry staples such as juice, beans, rice, pasta, peanut butter, canned tuna, cereal, and even frozen items like blueberries, and macaroni and cheese. Along with the boxed and frozen items, the mobile food bank also supplied bags of potatoes and onions, and fresh carrots, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
Different breads were also available, to include donations from Panera Bread’s “Day-End Dough-Nation” program, with Refuge Corporation receiving unsold bread and baked goods from the local Panera store.
All the above was distributed with the assistance of volunteers, from Christian House of Prayer and the local community.
“We do have volunteers from our church, but someone doesn’t have to be part of our church to volunteer. Refuge Corporation is its own 501c3,” Solomon added. “Anybody can volunteer. We welcome anyone who wants to help.”
Eric Williams, a deacon at Christian House of Prayer, has been with Refuge Corporation since its very beginning in 1996, and he has been a regular volunteer with the mobile food banks since they began.
On Saturday morning, Williams stayed busy carrying bags for food recipients, especially those with children and the elderly who needed an extra hand.
“It’s people helping people,” Williams said. “That’s why I do it. It’s good to see people being helped. It’s a blessing.”
The next mobile food bank is set for Saturday, July 21 in Killeen, and then returns to Copperas Cove on August 25. The next location for Copperas Cove will be announced in the future, with Solomon trying to find the best spot for visibility and accessibility in the community. Refuge Corporation belongs to the Central Texas Food Bank, which is a member food bank of the nationwide network of food banks, Feeding America.
In addition to holding its monthly food banks, Refuge Corporation will be gearing up for its annual Thanksgiving basket distribution, which has provided a turkey and all the fixings for at least 500 families in the local area each November.