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Thousands in Texas line up in cars to receive food before Thanksgiving

Thousands line up for Texas food bank drive
Thousands line up for Texas food bank drive 01:49

Thousands of people lined up in their cars in Dallas on Saturday to receive food from the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday next week. The organization told CBS News the food giveaway was its largest ever to date.

More than 6,000 cars and about 25,000 people were served by volunteers and staff of the food bank during the around five-hour event, Anna Kurian, NTFB's Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, told CBS News in an email. 

The food bank distributed 600,000 pounds of food, including 7,280 turkeys, to families during the "Drive-Thru Mobile Pantry." 

Footage of the event showed massive lines of cars waiting to pick up food and workers packing vehicles with boxes and bags of provisions. 

"I see blessings coming to us cause we all struggling," resident Samantha Woods said while waiting in her car, according to CBS Dallas. "And I appreciate North Texas helping us out." 

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Long lines of cars are seen waiting to receive food during the event. Spectra/Fair Park First

Kurian said that most people in the line received one turkey, dry products, bread and fresh produce. Each person was given about 20 meals worth of food, she added.

She said she spoke with a man named Manuel who had been hit hard by the pandemic — and was thankful for the NTFB's efforts.

"He had some illnesses and is disabled, but was able to rely on his wife's income to get by," Kurian told CBS News. "With COVID, she was laid off from work and the family has seen their fair of struggles since. He shared that the food received was a true blessing because he had thought they would eat spaghetti for dinner on Thanksgiving, but was beyond thankful to be able to take home a turkey."

The event was the "brainchild" of the CEO of MW Logistics, Mitchell Ward, who asked the NTFB if they could "come together to help feed folks in south Dallas," Kurian said. She also emphasized the food bank had "a lot of community support."

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A worker is seen putting food in the trunk of a car during the event.  Spectra/Fair Park First

From March through September, the organization distributed over 63 million meals, a 45% increase compared to 2019, according to its website. It provided more than 60 million pounds of food within that time, marking a 72% increase from last year during the same period. 

Kurian said the food bank has seen an increase in need throughout every agency in its feeding network since the start of the pandemic, with at least 40% of the people "coming through the doors" being "new to them and due to COVID."

"As long as jobs are unstable, we will continue to see an increased need," Kurian said. "The good news is that there is a caring community that wants to ensure that we can help our neighbors."

And the dramatic increase in people experiencing food insecurity amid the pandemic isn't limited to Texas — it's nationwide

A report from the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at Northwestern University in June reported that food insecurity had doubled overall and tripled for families with kids as a result of the pandemic, relying on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey.

In an interview with CBS News earlier this fall, IPR director and one of the authors of the report, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, said that she was "confident" that this pattern of rising food insecurity would "continue to hold."

Kurian encouraged anyone not impacted and hoping to contribute to consider supporting the NTFB. "Your support will help put food on the table for our neighbors in need," she said. 

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Food is seen in large bins before being distributed to the community.  Spectra/Fair Park First
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