The start of the Food Bank was in 1989 when it was acknowledged that the state and federal governments were not providing all of the necessary help needed in the Laredo and that millions of pounds of edible foods, which could be used to feed the hungry, were being thrown into the landfill every year. In December 1989 the doors to the Laredo Webb County Food Bank first opened with one mission in mind, to help end hunger, here at home.
The "brain child" of three civic leaders: Odie Arambula, Erasmo Villareal and Galo Garcia, the food bank began operations in one room of the old Loros Supermarket, today the HEB Mercado Store. In 1992, the growing operation moved to a 10,000-foot hangar at the old air base. In 1993, the food bank hired its first full-time executive director, Elton Gaskey. Prior to this, an H.E.B. employee, along with the STFB board, used to assist with the executive duties. Its current location was acquired in 1997 thanks to a grant from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Foundation, funding from HEB, and a grant from the Meadows Foundation. The 36,000 square foot warehouse, located at 1907 Freight Street, is nestled in west Laredo, in the corner of Freight and Riverside, one block south of Calton Road. Inside you will find storage space, holding areas, processing room, repacking facility, and as well as walk-in coolers and freezers. This facility has allowed the Food Bank to further enhance its day to day operations and allow for the number of people serviced by the food bank to increase.
On March 2007, the food bank held its first Empty Bowls fundraiser event at the Laredo Energy Arena. The event included a benefit dinner and silent auction that included bowls decorated by then City of Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, Senator Judith Zaffirini, Happy (comedian Efrain Guerrero), Amado Peña, the band Intocable, the Laredo Bucks, and other local and regional artists. Since the, the event has become a staple fundraiser event for the South Texas Food Bank.
The Laredo Webb County Food Bank became the South Texas Food Bank in 2004, when the service area expanded to Zapata, Maverick, Val Verde, Dimmit and Kinney counties. However, the name was officially changed in 2008 when Starr County became the eight service county. In 2010, the food bank held events such as a marathon, a walk, a radiothon and Empty Bowls to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. Events were also held throughout this year, 2014, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary. The events included a city-wide food drive, a sort-a-thon, a movie screening at LCC, Friend & Fundraiser at Hal's Landing, STFB-KGNS Bucket Brigade, Empty Bowls event and Rock the Holidays - Anniversary Bash at Hal's Landing in December.
The food bank currently serves eight counties in the south Texas region: Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Val Verde, Starr, Maverick, Dimmit and Kinney. The South Texas Food Bank is a certified member of Feeding Texas and Feeding America's Food Bank Network - the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization.
Past Executive Directors:
Elton Gaskey (1993-2001)
Alfredo Castillo (2001 -2011)
Alfonso Casso, Jr. (2011 - 2014 )
Erasmo Villarreal (Interim) (2014- )
(Photo clippings - Laredo Morning Times 1996 & 1997)