Thornton Township food assistance center offer drive-through relief during coronavirus pandemic

THORNTON TOWNSHIP, Ill. (WLS) -- This is the second week Thornton Township has converted its food assistance center into a drive-through, with lines of cars stretching for blocks.

The pandemic is causing an even greater need in the community.

"If we weren't here to help people, a lot of people wouldn't know what to do for meals for their families," said Ernst Lamothe, Thornton Township.

Instead of walking into the center, people observed social distancing and stayed in their cars. Cook County's Sheriff's Police brought them boxes of food.

"This is the epitome of community policing, of community engagement, and just to let citizens see a different side of people with these interactions," said Lt. Yolanda Collins-Watson, Cook County Sheriff's Department.

Spirits were high, and people were happy to help and happy for the help. Houston Taylor was thankful for the food that can help feed his growing family.

"A lot of people don't have certain basic necessities like running water, food, clothing," he said.

Mary Hairston-Prah is also thankful, but knows the real toll coronavirus can take. Her friend died from COVID-19 two days ago.

"Two weeks ago, she was at work and doing fine," she said. "And went to the hospital and went just like that."

Organizers said this event is one of the ways the township can be a safety net for those in need.

"We have many people in line who have never used our services and I think that's a symptom of what we're going to be seeing over the next couple of weeks," said Troy O'Quin, Thornton Township.

Quin said he expects the food resource center to be a crucial resource for the community long after the stay-at-home order is lifted and the curve is flattened. He said many people will emerge from this pandemic without the resources they need and even deeper food insecurity.
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