An ammonia leak from the air-conditioning system on Tuesday night forced the Houston Food Bank to discard nearly two million pounds of food worth an estimated $2.7 million.

By Meghan Overdeep
November 22, 2019
Houston Food Bank

Organizations stepped up big time after an ammonia leak from the air-conditioning system on Tuesday night forced the Houston Food Bank to discard nearly two million pounds of contaminated food worth an estimated $2.7 million.

Two Texas-based grocery stores, H-E-B and Kroger, and United Airlines pitched in to help the food bank replenish.

In addition to trailer loads of produce, meat, and other products, H-E-B is also organizing its employees for a volunteer event.

“Losing 1.8 million pounds of refrigerated product is truly tragic,” Lisa Helfman, director of H-E-B Public Affairs Houston, told KVUE. “It is our privilege to enlist H-E-B’s manpower and supplies to ensure the Houston Food Bank not only recovers but is able to continue fulfilling its mission of feeding families in need.”

Kroger donated $50,000 to the Houston Food Bank and a truckload of perishable goods while United has pledged to match up to $100,000 in individual donations to the food bank made through its GoFundMe page.  Sysco, a Houston-based wholesale company, is donating $50,000 as well as 40,000 pounds of turkeys just in time for Thanksgiving. The Houston Texans, Big Lots, Walmart, Tyson, and Walgreens have also contributed.

Due to the tremendous community response in just a few short days, the Houston Food Bank is currently back to its normal distribution of more than 10 trailer loads of product per day delivering both fresh produce and nonperishables to its partners.

“At the Houston Food Bank, we often talk about how individuals and families are often one emergency away from needing food assistance,” Brian Greene, president/CEO of Houston Food Bank, said in a news release. “It’s something different when we have emergency of our own that impacts our ability to serve the community. But we see it time and again—when Houston is faced with a struggle or crisis, the community comes together in a big way with the common goal of helping others.  We are so thankful and appreciative of the love and support you, the Houston community, continues to show the Houston Food Bank and the families we serve.”

The food bank works 24 hours a day to help 1.1 million people struggling with food insecurity in 18 Houston-area counties.

WATCH: A Houston Grocery Store Donates 1,500 Turkeys Just in Time for Thanksgiving

But they still need help. The Food Bank requires volunteers to handle and process the new food for distribution. Food, especially produce coming in, needs to be distributed quickly, as it can’t be stored in the coolers just yet.  For volunteer information and to sign up, go to

For more information on how to donate, visit