“What’s going on?” one motorist said as she tried to find a parking space in the lot just west of the Beeville Publishing Co. offices.
What it turned out to be was probably a couple of hundred vehicles from families who had applied for and had been granted a chance to pick up a package of food commodities brought to town by the Corpus Christi Food Bank.
Two local business owners organized the first delivery of the food last month.
But the crowd was nowhere as big then as it was last week. That was because fewer local residents knew about the delivery.
According to that organizer, the more the merrier when it comes to distributing food here. The organization cannot take the food back to Corpus Christi, and it cannot give food to anyone who volunteers to help distribute it.
One of the volunteers said helpers were mainly coming from four local organizations. That included the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church and the church’s Knights of Columbus organization.
Volunteer Mando Musquez said they had food left over last month. But Friday, it appeared as if all the food would be distributed.
The boxes handed out contained fresh vegetables, bread, frozen chickens, fruit, crackers, chips and just about anything else a hungry family might want on the dinner table.
One of the two business owners who organized the food distribution said one of the representatives of the food bank made a presentation recently at the Wednesday Luncheon Club, and she explained how the organization could help provide badly-needed food for families.
The organizer said more than 700 local families have been served since the first distribution event was held last month.
“But more than twice that many need it,” she said.
The organizers decided to call the effort “The Beeville Mobile Pantry.”
Volunteers have been meeting two trucks from Corpus Christi near the downtown pavilion in the parking lot west of the 300 block of North Washington Street.
The organizer said that, when local families sign up for the food, it is important that they come and get it.
“There are a lot of people who don’t show up to get the food,” the organizer said.
Those who want the food must sign up in advance, and they must qualify for the assistance.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people qualify,” the organizer said. “It’s really a wonderful thing.”
Mostly those who are eligible for the assistance are low-income or are already receiving some type of assistance.
“It’s mainly for the elderly,” the businesswoman said. “And we have a lot of people who are handicapped.”
The new pantry program actually is only the latest one to offer nutritional assistance.
The First United Methodist Church hands out food to those who need it on the second Saturday of each month. The First Baptist Church provides the same service on the fourth Saturday of the month.
The organizer said the Mobile Pantry will be distributing food on third Friday of the month, except for next month (April).
That day, the delivery will be moved to the Wednesday before the third Friday because that will be Good Friday.
However, the organizers are entertaining the idea of having the deliveries made twice a month and dividing the alphabet when it comes to last names.
Hopefully, that would decrease the traffic congestion experienced last Friday downtown.
Those who wish to sign up to receive the food donations must sign up at one of the churches mentioned.
“We’re really not doing that much,” the organizer said. Even though she and the other business owner provide the local funds each month so that their pantry can qualify for a matching donation from the Corpus Christi organization.
“We’re just meeting a need,” she said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.