Driving around Cleveland Circle, SW in the Perkerson neighborhood, a line of parked cars stretched around the Hosea Helps headquarters late Wednesday morning and afternoon. Metro Atlanta residents waited in their vehicles for more than four hours in hopes of receiving a box of food to feed their families for the remainder of the holiday season.

Local nonprofit Hosea Helps handed out pre-packaged meal boxes at its south Atlanta office Wednesday afternoon, as a part of its Fresh Food Wednesdays program. While the organization hosts Fresh Food Wednesdays all year round, crowds appear at their strongest around Thanksgiving and Christmastime.

Hosea Helps handed out pre-packaged meal boxes (above) at its south Atlanta office Wednesday afternoon, as a part of its Fresh Food Wednesdays program. Photo by Janelle Ward/The Atlanta Voice

Hosea Helps, named after civil rights leader and activist Hosea Williams, has assisted needy families located in and around Atlanta in multiple capacities since 1971. Alongside their food distribution efforts, Hosea Helps offers rental assistance, job counseling, life skills training and a host of other services to aid struggling residents.

Carl Daniel, executive assistant at Hosea Helps, said the organization originally distributed hot meals to the community each holiday season. However, the pandemic’s arrival in 2020 led the nonprofit to switch to handing out pre-cooked meals instead. Wednesday’s giveaway followed pandemic safety protocols, with volunteers working in assembly line-style to assemble boxes and place them in recipients’ cars.

This year’s boxes consisted of non-perishable items, fresh produce and ingredients provided by meal kit company HelloFresh. Daniel said each box contains about a four-week supply of food, holding enough ingredients to offer families full-balanced meals.

“[Recipients] won’t just get a box [of non-perishables],” Daniel said. “They’ll get meat, produce, things of that nature.”

The food giveaway continues to attract larger crowds each year, Photo by Janelle Ward/The Atlanta Voice

Daniel said the food giveaway continues to attract larger crowds each year, as more families affected by job layoffs, rent increases and other forms of financial hardship, struggle to make ends meet as the holiday season approaches. He said the organization may assist close to 400 families by the event’s end at 5 p.m.

“We try our best [to give back to the community],” Daniel said. “And people are thankful [for our services].”