Mobilizing to feed the community

Xavier Rangel, and eighth-grader at Kenedy Junior High, and Shelly Carrasco, were among those helping distribute food to community members during a giveaway on May 15 at Otto Kaiser Memorial Hospital. (Photo by Jeff Osborne)

A small army of volunteers gathered at Otto Kaiser Memorial Hospital to help giveaway 1,200 boxes of food to community members through a Farmers to Families partnership.

Although the event was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. May 15, people started lining up about 5:30 a.m. to receive the food, according to Barbara James, director of marketing and communications for OKMH, who credited the volunteers for helping the process run smoothly.

“We’ve got awesome volunteers here today and that makes all the difference,” she said. “This was our first time to do this and the response has been fantastic. I can’t say enough about all the people who have shown up to help us.”

Among those helping to distribute food were county commissioners Shelby Dupnik and Benny Lyssy. Although the county also offers food giveaways each first Monday of the month in a partnership with the San Antonio Food Bank, Dupnik said he appreciates the Farmers to Families distribution, too.

“In Karnes County – I don’t care what you say – there’s a lot of people hungry, a lot of kids hungry,” he said. “We want to do all we can to help feed them. Even if people didn’t need the food themselves, we encouraged them to come by and get some to share with neighbors.”

Helping to coordinate the event was Viola Holman of Cuero’s Tri City Empowerment Committee. She said the Farmers to Families program has already had distributions in Cuero and other DeWitt County communities and was able to branch out and bring items to Kenedy.

“We were blessed to be able to bring the truck here today,” she said. “Back in October I was notified of this program being offered, and one morning an 18-wheeler showed up sitting outside First Baptist Church in Cuero full of food with no volunteers. I got online, posted on Facebook and called people and we got things done that day. We’ve had several distributions so things have gotten a little better each time.”

The Kenedy distribution is expected to be one of the last for the Farmers to Families program, James and Holman said, noting that the government has decided to discontinue the program at the end of the month.

“This is the end of the program – it was set up for farmers to help them get food away and to keep them from having to throw away any excess food,” Holman said. “It was great for families, too, to be able to get the food. The government has paid the expenses, we just pay a little bit for gas to get from one place to another.

“We just love to help people, and it’s been a real blessing for us to be able to do that through this program. The volunteers have just been beautiful.”

Among those bringing in additional donations was Wayne Mechtel of Runge, who brought an estimated 600-700 farm fresh eggs to share with community members.

“I called Karnes City looking for someone who needed eggs and the lady (at city hall) referred me to Barbara (James),” he said. “She told me it was funny that I should call because they had a food distribution planned for Saturday.

“I’m so glad to be able to help out. The good thing about farm fresh eggs is they can sit on the shelf for up to three months without spoiling, and you don’t even have to refrigerate them.”

Holman said she appreciated Mechtel’s donation and everyone who participated in the distribution.

“A lot of people are hurting and this is a blessing for them,” she said. “We’ve had so many senior citizens – it was so cute. They’ve formed a little club to help give things to other people. That’s the thing – if you don’t need it, give it to somebody who does. Be a blessing to them.”



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