'Crazy' idea helps fill local food pantry shelves for 30th year

By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX It’s all hands on deck this year for the Food For Families drive as KWTX, H-E-B and the Boy Scouts of America celebrate the food drive’s 30th year.

Organizers of Food For Families, the largest one-day food drive in the state of Texas, hope to gather 2.5 million pounds of non-perishable food this year for food pantries all across the region. (File)

Organizers of Food For Families, the largest one-day food drive in the state of Texas, hope to gather 2.5 million pounds of non-perishable food this year for food pantries all across the region.

The drive is the brainchild of former KWTX Vice President of News Virgil Teter.

He had been involved in a similar effort when he worked at a Denver television station before he came to work in Central Texas.

When he proposed it in 1989, however, some area food bank managers said he was “crazy,” he remembers.

“They said they didn’t think we could gather the community support to make Food For Families successful, let alone sustainable,” Teter, now retired, recalled in a recent telephone conversation from his Colorado home.

Teter cobbled together a group of like-minded individuals and groups that in 1990 championed the first Food For Families drive on the Friday before Thanksgiving.

In just one day the effort generated donations of more than 80,000 pounds of non-perishable food stores to several food pantries just in time for Thanksgiving Dinner.

The drive grew quickly, and now involves a small army of volunteers young and old across Central Texas who plan year-round for the one-day effort.

Last year Central Texans donated more than 2.2 million pounds of food, and over the past 29 years the annual food drive has provided exactly 28,952,219 pounds of food to families from Hillsboro to Salado and from Evant to Mexia.

Donations come from businesses, schools, fire and police departments, motorcycle clubs, civic organizations and thousands of Central Texas residents who open their hearts to help feed the hungry.

“The fact that people in the community got behind the drive, supported it and gave of themselves for their neighbors is what made Food For Families last so long,” Teter said.

On Friday, for the 30th year, volunteers from the Boy Scouts, area schools and organizations and H-E-B will fan out across Central Texas, asking again for donations of canned meats, tuna, chili, stew, chicken, canned vegetables, sugar, corn meal, pasta, pasta sauce, cereals, flour, baby food, peanut butter, dry beans, flour and rice.

The donations will go to food pantries in nine Central Texas counties.