Local restaurants help food banks feed hungry families

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) A local food bank is struggling to keep up with demand, but someone is stepping up to help meet the need.

Every week volunteers from a local food pantry show up before opening hours at Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen in Harker Heights.

They load up on chicken, vegetables, soup, potatoes along with to-go orders that were placed and not picked up.

Previously, the leftovers that didn’t sell would have been wasted, but they are now going to feed hungry families.

"We check the quality whenever we're bagging it up for the food bank, and we freeze that food and make sure they know that there's food for their them to come to pick up," says Cheddar's managing partner Calandria Bourassa.

Her location is the largest restaurant supplier for the Killeen Food Care Center, providing around 150 pounds of donated food each week.

“We certainly felt the pinch in our pocket and face financial challenges each and every month,” says director Raymond Cockrell.

The partnership is arranged through the Food Donation Connection, an international organization that matches food service companies with programs in need.

“With the increased demand we've seen over the summer, we're now over 84,000 clients we serve groceries to that are in need this year,” adds Cockrell.

Recently other restaurants in the area have joined in, including the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Pizza Hut.

"You ought to see the faces of our clients when they see pizzas when they walk in the door," smiles Cockrell.

Food is checked for quality once again when it arrives at the center, and food not given out is sent to local farmers to feed animals.

Through the waste reduction system, donations don’t end up in the trash and quality meals go to those who usually don't have the option of dining out.

"Rather than just one person, we can have an entire team or an entire brand with that support to help the community," adds Bourassa.

"I feel like it goes a long way," she says.

Restaurants owners and managers are encouraged to reach out to the food pantry to find out how they can help reduce waste and feed local families.

The Killeen Food Care Center also benefits from the KWTX annual Food for Families Drive.

Stay tuned for information on how you can help during the coming weeks.