Don't miss a beat on the latest happenings at South Texas's biggest food bank by following Salo's Fighting Hunger blog!


For stories from previous years, please visit our Blog Archive.




    View Archives
    1. Six elementary school boys raise money for South Texas Food Bank adopt a family

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      Six boys from Elsa Rodriguez  Garcia’s  fourth grade gifted and talented class at Col. Santos Benavides Elementary School have made a difference in the lives of seven families struggling with hunger and   on the rolls of the  South Texas Food Bank.

      Sean Villarreal, Brandon Bento-Jackson, Kalin Rodriguez, Alejandro Ventura, Hector Garza and Matthew Morin took the issue of hunger to the front door of the WalMart  on Northeast  Bob Bullock Loop 20 and raised $840 for the South Texas Food Bank Adopt a Family program.  Adopt a Family started more than a decade ago.   A $120 annual  donation means a needy family receives a box of groceries per month.   The program helps 400 families monthly.

      The boys, who  tagged themselves Hunger Fighters and drew up a logo with a fist  and put it on  a  t-shirt,  raised the funds by selling lemonade for $1 per cup from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on May 4-5.    It was part of Ms. Garcia’s lesson plan for three groups  identifying issues in Laredo.  She noted that one group took the cancer issue and another the elderly, visiting them locally.

      The boys checked the South Texas Food Bank website at  to view how they could help.  They setup an after-school  tour of the food bank, located at 1907 Freight in west Laredo, and learned  about adopt a family from STFB staffer Leo de la Garza.  “He gave us a tour.  It was great. He had a sense of humor,”  noted one of the boys.

      The six echoed, “It’s a  matter of helping the poor.  The hungry is our community.  We thought it would be awesome.  It’s all about being kind.”

      “I was amazed at what  they did,”  Ms. Garcia lauded.   “We were  so excited that they surpassed their original goal (of  three or four families).’’

      “What  these  boys did is an example  for all young and old,”  South Texas Food Bank board member  Doug Howland  said.   “We’re hoping more get involved in the mission.  Monetary donations are very crucial to our organization and the need continues.”

      The group   used   ingenuity and marketing.  They made and sold the lemonade and then added donuts to the menu.  “The donuts attracted sooo many people,” the boys gleamed.

      And, of course, the best marketing and fundraising  tool of all,  asking for a donation toward a crucial  cause.   The question,  what was the biggest donation you got?  “I got a $20 bill,” said one of the boys.  “I got a 50,” said another. “He asked  for change.”   That’s  $49 in change?  What did you tell him after that?  “I said thank you.”

      Yes ,every dollar counts.

    2. Celebrate ‘Cinco de Mayo’ with South Texas Food Bank Hal’s Landing

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      It’s   a “Cinco de Mayo”   South Texas Food Bank and  Hal’s Landing holiday  get together  again at the popular  entertainment  night spot at 6510 Arena Blvd near the Laredo Energy Arena.  The fundraiser honoring  the Mexican  holiday  is Tuesday, May 5  to help the South Texas Food Bank mission of  feeding the hungry.


      The event features the music of  Ross and Friends  on the main stage and five other bands playing in the patio and arcade.   Hal’s owners Tom and Marianne Lamont,  longtime advocates of the South Texas Food Bank,  announced  that the other five  bands  are JoAnna and  The Reminiscene, Jolly Ranchers, Expansivo, La Mission Vallenata and La Autentica Sonora.

       “We thank the Lamonts for been loyal partners in our mission,”  South Texas Food Bank  board president  Anna  Benavides Galo said.  STFB interim executive director Erasmo Villarreal  added, “We’ll have plenty of good dancing and listening music for one of the greatest causes in Laredo.”

      Admisson  is a   $10 per person cover charge with all  going to the food bank.  Doors open at 6 p.m.  Music is  from 7 to 11.  More than $1,000 in raffle prizes  will be given away.  Tickets are available at the door or by calling (956) 324-2432.

      The South Texas  Food Bank distributes  supplemental food to the unemployed, under-employed  and those living on fixed incomesespecially  the elderly.   The STFB,  member of  Feeding Texas  )  and the national  organization Feeding America,  serves an eight-county area  from  Del Rio (Val Verde County)  to Rio Grande City (Starr County),   helping  an average  of 27,000  families, 7,000 elderly and 500 veterans and their widows per month.  Also  served  are  an average of  2,500 meals  to 1,500 children  Monday through Friday  in the Kids Café program at  19 sites, including  15 in Laredo-Webb County.


      About the Food Bank

      The South Texas Food bank currently serves eight counties in the south Texas region: Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Val Verde, Starr, Maverick, Dimmit and Kinney. The food bank is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and certified member of the Feeding Texas Network and Feeding America - the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization. Currently, the food bank serves an average of 28,000 families every month. For more information about The South Texas Food Bank or any of its programs, call (956) 726-3120 or visit: You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


    3. Big Event was a big success at South Texas Food Bank

      by Salo otero | Comments (0)

      More than 300 TAMIU students and faculty members volunteered at this year's TAMIU Big Event that took place this morning - Sat., March 28- at the South Texas Food Bank facility. The students engaged in various activities, from bagging and sorting to painting the interior of the food bank office. Laredo Paint & Decorating provided the paint for this project. 

      STFB Interim Executive Director Erasmo Villareal said thanked all the TAMIU volunteers for this amazing volunteer effort. In tune with the spirit of camaraderie and goodwill, the students surprised the executive director when in the middle of their work they stopped and sang “Happy Birthday” to  him.

      “On behalf of the South Texas Food Bank board, staff and clients that we serve, I would like to thank each and every student and faculty member that volunteered at today’s Big Event, “ Villareal said.  “The work they have done here today is of great benefit to our operation.  We just can’t thank them enough.”

      Thank you to these outstanding young citizens of our community for keeping the less fortunate in mind and for giving back to their community.


      Please visit our Flickr account (South Texas Food Bank) or click on the link below to see more photos of the Big Event:

    4. South Texas Food Bank recipient brings cheer to nursing home residents

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      At age 83, Oralia Gonzalez Roach feels  blessed by God.   One of her gifts is music and the ability to play the guitar and sing.

      She  firmly believes  in sharing   time, talent and treasure.  She makes time to volunteer her talent  and has become a treasure to the elderly  of  Laredo’s nursing home residents. Every last Friday of every month for the past seven years  she and a group of volunteers have brought smiles and some toe-tapping  to the residents of Retama Manor South  in Central Laredo near St. Augustine High School.

      Ms. Roach’s attitude of  giving back at her age is  not only awareness of her blessings, but also what she is receiving.  She is one of many  Laredoans  living on a fixed income.  “Just social security,” she notes, shrugging her shoulders.  “It’s  very hard. People my  age  have a lot of expenses. We pay  taxes, utilities, medicines and of course have to buy food and gasoline.”  She is still driving herself to all her commitments.

      One of the blessings coming her way  is  supplemental food assistance from the  South Texas Food Bank --  box of groceries per month via the adopt a family program.  A $120 annual donation sponsors a family or individual. She is greatful, “The food bank is a huge, huge help to me and many others.”

      Before being an adopt a family client, she was a donor to the program through her membership in the Catholic Daughters of America.

      “Adopt a family is a grass roots program of neighbors helping neighbors,”  South Texas Food Bank staffer Rev.  Miguel Zuniga noted.

      “Donors are a blessing to our food bank clients like Ms. Roach. How beautiful it is that Ms. Roach is giving back and like the saying, ‘paying it forward’.” Tax deductible donations can be mailed to 1907 Freight, Laredo, Tex., 78041. Check the website  for  more information.

      “Ms. Roach’s actions are powerful,” a food bank advocate notes. “Here is a woman getting help and  in turn bringing joy to others.  She is an example to all  about  giving and receiving. Amen to her and the group.”

      Born in Rio Grande City,  Ms. Roach has lived in Laredo since age 3, growing up in the old Azteca Neighborhood.   Her dad worked with the Tex-Mex Railroad. After obtaining her  high school diploma in the Laredo Junior College GED program, she became  a licensed vocational nurse in 1957,  studying at Del Mar College in Corpus Chrisiti.  She was a fixture for 32 years in the old Mercy Hospital newborn nursery working the 11 p.m. to  7 a.m. shift.  She was married to the late Robert Lee Roach for 34 years and has been a widow for 18 years.

      For more than 30 years Ms. Roach has been a part of several   choirs playing for residents at Retama South and  Regency,  Holy Redeemer Church and at funerals  throughout Laredo.    She acknowledges the inspiration from the late Lydia Mendoza of San Antonio.  Ms. Roach oftens wear a Lydia Mendoza shirt.  “Lydia was a singer for the poor. I was honored to play at her funeral seven years ago. Christ has given me  a gift.  I just enjoy   volunteering,” Ms. Roach beams noting, “some nursing home residents don’t have anyone visiting.   They just wait and see who comes in.”

      The last Friday of every month at about 2:30 p.m. is the day “Oralia y su grupo”  as they are affectionately called appear at Retama South.

      “We sing some of the old-time residents can identify with like La Martina, La Mesera.  Musica antigua,” Ms. Roach said. “We open with a prayer. Close with a prayer. The residents come to life. Some sing, some dance.”

      Ms. Roach and group are aware, “They don’t get many visitors during the week. People are working and going to school and can be there only weekends.”

      On that Friday, the group catches up on birthdays.  Through the years, they have sung a lot of Mananitas  (the traditional birthday Mexican song).  The most memorable one for Ms. Roach was, “When I was 80, we had a special serenata for a person who was 101. I told her, I’m a teenager (compared to you).”

      Among Ms.  Roach’s group are husband  and wife, Pedro and Magdalena Hernandez, ages 74 and 71.  They are featured singing  a duet at the monthly gathering. Pedro is the lone man. All others are  women Maria Jimenez, Maria Candelaria Castillo, Alejandra Villela, Mercdes Leal, Mariadelia Almendarez, Maria Flores, Racquel Bradley, Maria Guerra and Ceci Aguilar. Others join from time to time. Ms. Roach greets each of her “band” with a hug, kiss on the cheek and sometimes  places the sign of the cross on their forehead as they prepare for their singing party.

      Most of the 86 Retama South residents are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. “It’s beautiful what she does,” says Maria Arispe,  Retama South activity director.  “Mrs. Roach brings a lot of joy and happiness to our residents. They just love it.”


    5. Looking for a different Christmas gift idea? Try South Texas Food Bank programs

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      An alternative  gift during the Christmas holidays?  Think  about  a donation to the South Texas Food Bank mission of  feeding the hungry through its several programs.

      The South Texas  Food Bank (STFB),  celebrating  its 25th anniversary, opened  in 1989 under the  auspices of H-E-B as the Laredo Webb-County Food Bank distributing  supplemental food to the unemployed, under-employed  and those living on fixed incomes  especially  the elderly.   The STFB,  member of  Feeding Texas  (formerly Texas Food Bank Network)  and the national  organization Feeding America,  now serves an eight-county area  from  Del Rio (Val Verde County)  to Rio Grande City (Starr County),   helping  an average  of 27,000  families, 7,000 elderly and 500 veterans and their widows per month.  And  serving  an average of 1,500 children  2,500 meals Monday through Friday  in the Kids Café program at  23 sites, including 19 in Laredo-Webb County.  The STFB is located at 1907 Freight at Riverside in west Laredo,  phone (956) 726-3120, website,  facebook and twitter.

      “With a poverty rate of 33 percent and a childhood hunger rate of 40 percent in our area, the need for the most basic of  needs – food and water – is huge,” notes South Texas Food Bank interim director Erasmo Villarreal.  “Hunger in our own backyard is not acceptable.”

      One of the STFB highlights is the Adopt a Family Program.   The sponsorship program originated at the South Texas Food Bank  11  years ago.  It allows  an individual, a family or an organization to donate $120 for the year.  In return  a needy family  receives a bag of groceries per month for one year.  Almost  500 are on the program, but  with a waiting list of  60.  About 10 Laredo donors to the program adopt one family per month. One family,  including  the  three children, walked into the food bank office just before Thanksgiving  this year  saying  “We want to adopt  two families.”

      Rev.  Miguel Zuniga, minister of the Laredo Church of Christ and an employee of the  South Texas Food Bank calls  adopt-a-family  “grass roots in nature. The program is local. It’s neighbors helping neighbors.”  In that vein  Rev. Zuniga and the  South Texas Food Bank  development department  has  mailed  all Laredo   evangelical  pastors  “an invitation  to you and your congregation to join in a concerted effort to pass the basket during your scheduled service  to help the food insecure of our Laredo through a special second collection in December.”

      The South Texas Food Bank, through its buying power via Feeding America and Feeding Texas, converts every dollar donated into 10 pounds of food, $17 worth of groceries or eight meals.

      Other STFB programs include:

      Commodity Surplus Food Program (CSFP):  A USDA program mostly for the elderly (age 60 and over). More than 7,000 elderly  receive a monthly bag of groceries. Unfortunately,  there is a waiting list of 1,000-plus. Those on the waiting list are candidates for adopt a family. Supplemental  Nutrition Assistance Program  (SNAP, formerly food stamps):

      South Texas Food Bank staff members assist, especially the elderly,  with applications at the food bank office, community events, public  locations or even at the applicants home.  More than $20 million per year  of food stamp money allocated to Webb County  remains not  applied for.

      Emergency Assistance: The South Texas Food Bank distributes food at 80 pantries throughout the service area, including 40 in Webb County. An emergency bag  is given  to those in immediate need. More than 150 per month receive emergency aid.

      Kids Café:  Sadly,  Texas ranks No. 1 in the nation in childhood hunger at 22 percent.  Even sadder, Laredo’s childhood hunger is 40-plus percent. Nineteen Kids Cafes in Webb County  serve an afterschool meal  to more than 1,500 children Monday through Friday during the school year. The largest Kids Cafes are at  Laredo Boys and Girls Clubs sites -- Roberto M. Benavides,  Lamar Bruni Vergara, Northwest, Rio Bravo and El Cenizo Clubs.

      Ranchers for the Hungry: Ranchers can donate  deer, steer or any other livestock.  The program was named Food Resourcing Program of the Year in 2012 by Feeding America at the national Feeding America Network Summit in Detroit.


    1. 1
    2. |
    3. 2
    4. |
    5. 3
    6. |
    View Archives
    • Print
    • Text Size: A A A

    Sign up for our e-newsletter

    Sign Up

    Manage your e-mail subscription