By Ayesha Hana Shaji
Texas Metro News Team
Hundreds of cars lined up outside the Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center as early as 7 a.m. to collect free food boxes on Friday, March 17 at the St. Paddy’s Day-themed Center Table Spring Break mobile pantry food drive hosted in partnership with the North Texas Food Bank and the City of Dallas.
With food to feed more than 500 families, the drive started at 9.30 a.m. and wrapped up around 11:30 a.m., said Trina Terrell-Andrews, CEO of Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center.
Their first food drive was for Mother’s Day in May 2020. Seeing so many people being impacted by the pandemic, Terrell-Andrews said they felt it was important to really help during times beyond the traditional holidays.
“We try to do it around the holidays and especially when we know kids are home for an extended period,” Terrell-Andrews said. “We decided to do it at the end [of spring break] because I’m sure some parents gotta make it through the rest of the weekend.”
With support from more than 45 volunteers from both the Heroes Center and the City of Dallas including police officers and state troopers; families were served for two hours.
Lieutenant Oscar Villarreal said with the current bad economy, many communities are struggling.
“We have a lot going on and one of the most important things you can do is the humanitarian aspect of things and taking care of the public,” he said. “And as public servants, what better way to show the community love than to do something like this?”
Participating with the food giveaways is at the top of of their priority list,
“Hey, this is one of the things that’s really important to us,” he said. “It’s not a mandatory thing for our people. So this is them taking their time to give back to the community.”
But this was not the only food drive happening at the same time. Cars also lined up outside the University of North Texas at Dallas campus for their monthly mobile food pantry, held each third Friday..
UNT Dallas also partnered with North Texas Food Bank and distributed 20,000 pounds of food, according to Eronia King, Project Coordinator of Experiential Learning at UNT and one of the organizers of the drive.
Around 30 students, faculty and staff volunteered to help out.
“It is part of UNT Dallas’ mission to strengthen our community and to give back,” King said. “Depending on the economy, there are ebbs and flows of what there’s an influx of and what people are lacking, and we’re able to at least help with any feelings of insecurity around foods.”