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North Texas food banks continue to draw mid-pandemic crowds

"I think with prices going up and inflation everybody's needing the help where they can get it," said Eronia King at UNT Dallas' food pantry program.

DALLAS — If long lines at food banks are "canary in a coal mine" proof of the current struggle posed by inflation, as some economists predict, the trend continued en masse in North Texas on Friday.

Food distribution events offered by the Tarrant Area Food Bank at Dickies Arena and other locations this week were greeted with what organizers referred to as mid-pandemic crowds.

"To have lines like this indicates that the need is really high right now. And it is. We're feeling it." said Tarrant Area Food Bank CEO Julie Butner.

"It's a real tough time and I don't know how we'd do it without this," food recipient Bard Therrell told WFAA.

"I guess the word would be overwhelming," said food recipient David Scott. "At times it gets to be too much."

The pattern continued Friday in southern Dallas at the campus of UNT Dallas, where a food pantry operated in partnership with the North Texas Food Bank takes place the third Friday of every month.

"I think people were lining up starting at 6 a.m," said UNT Dallas' Eronia King, who helps run the college's food pantry program. She admits she became worried when she watched the WFAA coverage of the long lines at the Tarrant Area Food Bank event the night before.

And, her worries proved justified.

"We ran out around 10:15am," she said of the usual 10,000 pounds of food they offer once a month. She says they had to turn as many as 100 vehicles away.

"I was worried that was going to happen to us as well and it did," King said. "I think with prices going up and inflation everybody's needing the help where they can get it."

"We're having a hard time ourselves because we're feeling the strains of increased cost and increased food costs and gasoline," said Julie Butner of the strain that food banks are experiencing across the country. "But we gotta be out here. If we're not here, who's here?"

"We've been doing this for over two years now and it really seems to be making a difference," said King.

A difference that all this evidence shows is needed now as much as ever.

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