This 2011 calendar is informative, entertaining and a work of art.
It is the special 2011 South Texas Food Bank Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) calendar being distributed to clients of the program that serves more than 6,500elderly residents monthly in Laredo and an eight-county area from Rio Grande City to Del Rio.
Persons age 60 and over who meet federal(USDA) income requirements qualify. They receive a bag of supplemental food per month, valued at $80 to $90. CSFP clients are mostly on fixed incomes. After paying their bills, by month’s end they run out of money for food. That’s when the food bank comes in.
The calendar, designed by the South Texas Food Bank staff, depicts cartoon-type mariachis drawn by Pancho Farias. Itcalls attention to CSFP recipients’ pickup date of their product. The food bank has 69 distribution sites, including 42 in Laredo-Webb County. Distributions are usually scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11 or 1:30 p.m. to 3 P.M..
Farias, a longtime Laredo artist and former track and field runner in the 1970s at Nixon High School,used his art talent to drawin cartoon and entertaining fashion a nutrition or information message per month catered for the elderly.
Caricatures of sombrero-wearing, guitar, trumpet, violin and maracas-playing mariachis belt out the words of nutrition wisdomand health tips inprinted song. The monthly dose also includes nutritional information. The South Texas Food Bank printed 7,000 calendars in Spanish.
They are complimentary and include the food bank logo and telephone numbers (956) 726-3120 or (956) 726-0888.
Farias explains the idea was born from executive director Alfredo Castillo, who wanted a birthday card “with mariachitos” to be sent from the food bank to CSFP recipients. “I started doing sketches and it turned in to more than a birthday card,” Farias said. “The little mariachi is ‘Chico,’ the only one in shape. The others are a little overweight. Chico gives health tips throughout the calendar.”
Farias credited food bank staff member Angie Osterman for coming up with themes of awareness ofthe food pyramid, food labeling, sugar and sodium intake.
In fact,Farias’ favorite message is the August one, where two mariachis are chasing Chico, whois riding a bicycle while holding a taco. It encourages exercise to lower cholesterol. Farias notes, “It promotes having fun, exercise and at the same time taking care of the elderly’s issues of diabetes and sugar intake."
“It’s a great way to get the message across to the elderly. They (the generation) are still visual and like to see things in writing and on their walls and refrigerator doors,” Lee Pipken of the Texas Food Bank Network said as a viewed a copy of the calendar on a recent visit.“The idea is outstanding.”