Toyota Mississippi and the Mid-South Food Bank provided food for 750 families at the Union County Fairgrounds Friday morning.
This was the third mobile food pantry the auto manufacturer has done this past week. The previous two were in Lee County Monday and Pontotoc County Wednesday.
The idea was to begin serving the three PUL Alliance counties that brought Toyota here but company representative Emily Wilemon-Holland said they hope to not only provide pantries in the future but expand to surrounding counties.
Although the giveaway was not scheduled to begin until 9 a.m., she said the first family showed up about midnight Thursday. Recipients were asked to fill out cards and remain in their vehicles, but because some arrived so early, Toyota representatives had jumper cables ready since some car batteries gave out overnight.
An army of volunteers formed an assembly line of sorts in the arena and recipients drove through with the various food items being loaded in trunks and inside the vehicles along the way. Parking was set up so that one line of cars could move through behind another in an orderly way.
Commenting on the degree of organization, she said, “That’s what we do. We’re Toyota.”
Each family received about 50 pounds of food including frozen hams but with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of the food items could be considered healthy food choices. Toyota purchased the items through the food bank.
Food had been provided for 500 families at the previous two pantry giveaways but Toyota
increased the number for Union County after seeing that the demand had been so great earlier.
Only the first 750 families were allowed into the fairgrounds but it was reported that church groups were handing out food coupons to those who arrived too late.
There was no word on when another pantry might occur but company officials are focusing on resuming production at the plant May 4 after installing health precautionary measures throughout the facility. Employees will have to go through a question and screening process to return to work and will have to be trained concerning the new procedures.
She said the company shut down in mid-production once it became clear that was needed and will shut down again if it appears too dangerous.
food pantry, Toyota