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Ammonia leak at Houston Food Bank spoils more than 1.8 million pounds of food

The food bank needs volunteers to sort and process food, as well as monetary donations to help replenish the warehouse of fresh produce and non-perishable items.

HOUSTON — The Houston Food Bank is cleaning up after an ammonia leak spoiled more than 1.8 million pounds of food.

A spokesperson for the food bank said a fan broke last week in an area where the food is stored and cut through a line containing ammonia, which is used to keep the food cold.

The gas spoiled 62 tractor trailer-sized loads of fruits, vegetables, rice and beans. Dairy products and meats were safe in separate freezers and refrigerators, according to Nicole Landers, Director of Communications for the Houston Food Bank.

Repairs began Tuesday and should be complete by Friday, she added.  

Meanwhile, all new produce and perishables are being stored in refrigerator trucks in the food bank parking lot. Those trucks are typically reserved for delivery but are the food bank's emergency storage for perishables.  

With fewer trucks available, keeping up with deliveries is a challenge.  

The food bank should be able to use its damaged refrigerators by next Tuesday. Until then, the food bank needs two things, Landers said. 

"Volunteerism and funds," she said. "Our community can do that in a variety of ways. One dollar equals three meals. So (with) a fund donation, we can take that money and multiply it by three."

The food bank does not take food donations. 

For more information, visit the Houston Food Bank’s website.


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