A Fort Bend County program created to help combat food insecurity and provide an economic stimulus to local restaurants has helped feed more than 7,300 residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fort Bend County commissioners at their June 1 meeting heard an update on the We All Eat program, a county-funded program created to give residents who are experiencing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic free to-go meals from local restaurants.

The We All Eat program has two objectives: to provide meals to Fort Bend County residents faced with food insecurity because of the pandemic and to help sustain local restaurants by providing resources necessary to maintain their patronage, retain employees and keep their doors open.

The program, which launched in October, is being administered by Texas Black Expo and is being paid for with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds.

At the June 1 meeting, county Auditor Ed Sturdivant called the program a success.

“This program that has helped not only needy families in need of nutrition and resources, but also businesses,” he said.

Jerome Love, Texas Black Expo president and creator of the program, said as of May 28, a total of 1,882 families had been served through the program. Put another way, 387,303 meals have been given to 7,382 Fort Bend County residents.

“That is a tremendous accomplishment,” he said.

In addition, about $5 million in revenue has been paid out to participating restaurants, Love said. As of May 28, the program had 20 participating restaurants, and 60 restaurant employees had been hired for the program.

Participating restaurants were asked in a survey if they would still be in business without the program, and 82% said they would not or that they were unsure, Love said. Michael Gelfand, the owner of Red's Grill in Richmond, is one of those who thanked the program for allowing him to keep his restaurant's doors open.

“As of today, it helped me stay alive,” he said.

County Judge KP George commended the court for approving the program last year.

“It made an impact; there is no question,” he said.

To learn more about the program, residents can visit https://wealleattexas.com/.