Published February 24, 2021 at 3:46pm.
Story by Kira Woodfield-Leeper. Photos courtesy of Metrocrest Services.
Metrocrest Services’ story of disaster relief is one of community. Standing partnerships with North Texas Food Bank, Denton Creek Farms, Denton County Commissioners Court, and the City of Carrollton among others allowed them to scale and mobilize their relief efforts quickly. Their efforts started early in the week before the storm hit when news of the incoming weather began to gain traction. Nicole Binkley, their Chief Operating Officer says, “We worked early with our homeless liaisons to make sure our homeless neighbors knew the storm was coming.” Work began immediately as standing programs allowed them to place people in shelters and for all to obtain reserves of food help days before the worst of the storm struck.
The silver lining for Metrocrest as they faced increased need for services was their ability to scale quickly. Demand on their food pantry has increased 60% this past week in the wake of the unprecedented winter storms mirroring the height of the need during the summer months of the pandemic. The pre-pandemic food assistance needs averaged at 40 families per day. Their new normal during COVID-19 is closer to 250 families per day. At the height of the pandemic need, last summer and this past week during storm recovery that number jumped to an average of 400 families per day. In the first two days alone following the storms last week they fed 900 families.
The standing relationships with community partners allowed them to call, articulate a need and have it filled immediately. Carrollton Farmers Branch School District was able to notify all of their families of the food and resources Metrocrest had ready to distribute. The team at Metrocrest was able to provide warm meals to those in city warming centers and shelters. A local congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Carrollton was notified of items that were in desperate need and two days later were able to contribute 3,000 of the needed items.
Recognizing early they had 6,000 boxes of food headed to North Texas that was undeliverable, the meal prep company, Hello Fresh, rerouted those boxes of food to the North Texas Food Bank who sent them to Metrocrest last Friday. They were able to support food pantry visitors and two entire apartment complexes with 32 cases of water and 912 Hello Fresh meals. Denton Creek Farms has been donating fresh produce to meet the increased demand. There is no first come first served at Metrocrest. Everyone receives a meal and other support they need. Support has come from both near and far, including a young man who drove down from Minnesota to deliver 500 donated cans of soup to their food pantry.
Support from Metrocrest right now also includes temporary housing assistance while many who’ve lost everything to fires and frozen pipes wait for insurance money to begin rebuilding. The recovery is far from over though as many have been using rent money to fix plumbing or replace items damaged or lost due to the outages. The lost wages from a week of missed work will also impact the stability of future financial needs for many. Metrocrest is already helping with rent relief and is supplementing losses in resources while many families scramble to get back on their feet.
Marketing & Communications Manager Caitlin Hardegree shares about the stress of worrying about keeping your family warm, dry, and fed. “We now all know what it feels like to be in that situation. We can now put ourselves in the shoes of someone who has to do that day in and day out.” Metrocrest hopes this community-wide experience of struggle will inspire more to give back to those who face these challenges daily.
The community can support Metrocrest Services in their efforts through monetary donations and volunteers to continue to support their increased demand. Metrocrest is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year of serving the Dallas area.