The free testing and meals event was hosted by the Allen-Plano Community Grocery Supply and Support for the Most Vulnerable, a group formed to assist the elderly and vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The service began with Nida Rehman's elderly neighbor, who Rehman said she checked on multiple times before she felt comfortable asking for a small favor.
“I was like, ‘If she needs something, I'm sure there's so many other people who might need help,” Rehman said.
The grocery service has now grown into a community Facebook group with more than 700 members. It assists those who are able to pay for their groceries but need help picking them up, but mostly, Rehman said, it assists those who are in need of free food.
“The majority of our clients—maybe, I would say, 80%—are people that we are paying for,” Rehman said.
The group has made roughly 170 runs since being started in mid-March and has donated over 2,500 hundred pounds of food, enough to feed 1,600 people, according to Rehman. A form is available online for those in need of groceries and those who would like to volunteer.
On April 29, in partnership with Plano-based restaurant In-Fretta Pizza, the group gave out 1,500 hot meals. On May 1, it will help give out 5,000 meals made by In-Fretta.
This giving by In-Fretta is part of owner Ram Mehta’s #EveryoneEatz movement, which began before the pandemic but has been given new meaning during, as previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper.
The April 29 event was originally intended to include on-the-spot testing for COVID-19, but wind levels were too high for drive-thru tests. Instead, WellHealth of Frisco gave out coupons for free testing at the Frisco location at a later date.
Dental kits were also provided by McKinney-based practice Vital Dental to anyone who stopped by the event. The family and cosmetic dentistry group had previously donated gloves and other protective gear to hospitals, but this was its first time giving out kits, said Dr. Asad Ahsan, DDS.
While the event took place in Allen, Rehman said it was advertised around Collin County and that anyone who comes to these types of events is welcome, regardless of residence.
“Whoever you are—I mean, if you're out here, you're obviously needing food, so we're not going to look at anything like that,” Rehman said.
This outlook on giving applies to all events and services provided by the Allen-Plano grocery group, Rehman said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the #EveryoneEatz hashtag.