​Restaurants, Food Banks Partner To Meet Growing Demand

Alan Scaia
May 27, 2020 - 12:25 pm

The Cities of Murphy, Sachse and Wylie have started working together to help meet growing demand on food pantries because of COVID-19. They started, "Team Up to Fight Hunger," last week and have helped about 200 families so far.

Families go through a screening process when they ask for help from one of three food pantries in the area. They can then receive a voucher for $40 for a meal from a local restaurant instead of a box of food.

"That gets the clients a nice, hot, hearty meal, but we're also driving traffic to the local area restaurants that have seen a decrease in their business because of the restrictions," says organizer Lon Ricker.

The vouchers can be used at Bold BBQ Pit in Wylie, Burger Island in Sachse, Community BBQ & Grill in Sachse, Country Burger in Murphy, Dickey's Barbecue Pit in Wylie, Josephine's Neighborhood Bistro in Wylie, Mr. Jim's Pizza in Wylie, Napoli's in Wylie, Palio's Pizza in Garland, Pizza Getti in Nevada, and Woodbridge Cafe in Sachse.

Ricker says some of those restaurants have called him after seeing their first customers with vouchers, and he has heard from recipients as well. Many, he says, had never needed help from a food bank before.

"I talked to a lady yesterday. She was sharing they were so excited their favorite barbecue place was on the list. They hadn't eaten there since March," Ricker says. "She sad it just made them feel really good they were just given that little bonus."

While the program was set up to help food banks deal with a spike in demand because of COVID-19, he says many other families rely on those food pantries all the time. In one case, he said a mother told him she had never been able to buy pizza for her kids.

"That's taking your mind off all the troubles, even if it's just for that hour you're sitting down with your family and eating a meal you didn't have to struggle over," he says.

Since food banks will still have to meet demand after job losses caused by COVID-19 pass, Ricker says he hopes to expand and continue the program. He says he was meeting with other organizers Wednesday afternoon.

"I've taken calls from restaurants in McKinney and Plano, asking, 'Hey, how can we be a part of this?'" he says. "I don't see why this has to end. The blessings are there if we can continue to get donations from the community to do this."

Ricker says the group can reimburse restaurants $25 for each $40 voucher they provide. The group is taking donations at www.TeamUpToFightHunger.com.