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    1. Diversity at Empty Bowls silent auction attracts top bidders

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)


      The silent auction part of the  South Texas  Food  Bank Empty Bowls VIII fundraiser  on   Aug.  22 at the Laredo Energy Arena  included some outstanding  items  of a diverse nature. The silent auction is coordinated by  Francisco “Pancho”  Farias,  a local  artist on the  food bank staff.

      There   were  a  diversity of   items  for sale to the highest bidder  to help the  STFB mission  of feeding the hungry, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.   And  the bidding went well.

      Anchored by the  usual   artwork on bowls and framed  paintings, the “new items”  included some outstanding  handmade  ranch-style furniture by Laredoan Jorge Kurczyn,  a one-hour helicopter joy ride for three  over courtesy of  Brush Country Helicopters  valued at $1,200,  and  for the outdoors person  a gun from Kirkpatrick’s,  an  Arena Gun Club six month membership and a gun safe which was raffled off.   Also,  jewelry by James Avery and David Bausman,  sculpture  by Josie Pappas,  Dallas Mavericks  autographed jersey plus tickets to a Spurs-Mavericks game and four rounds of golf and lunch at  The Max.

      Kurczyn’s pieces  caught  the bidders’ eyes.  His  furniture, made in his workshop in Michoacan, Mexico   where he  now lives, is known throughout Mexico and the United States. He left Laredo in the early 1970s to join the armed services  and now only  returns to visit family  and friends.

      “Jorge really came through  for us,”  Farias said.  Kurczyn is  a longtime friend of the Farias family.  The  other artwork contributors  were  Mary Bausman, Laura  Salido, Sharon Cruz, Francisca Palacios, Diana Virginia Serna, Sandra Gonzalez, Sonya Marie Sky, Erica Buentello, Elsa Martinez, Pancho Farias, Adriana Nunamaker,  Mary Quiroz, Christina Speer, Armando Hinojosa,  Arturo Nochebuena, Jessica  Diez Barroso.

      Also, Linda LaMantia, Ann Vela, Leslie Benavides, Cuate Santos,  Butch Ramirez,  Lazaro Ferdin, David Grizzle, Nora Barcelo, David Guerra, Jimmy Rodriguez, Joe Olivares, Norita Montemayor and youth artists Eva Raymond, Cynthia Ruiz Calderon, Gabriella Guerrero, Erica Escamilla and Jessie Castillo.



    2. KGNS-sponsored bucket brigade collects $6,319.29 to help South Texas Food Bank

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      The South Texas Food Bank bucket brigade on June 21 netted $6,319.29 for the mission of feeding the hungry. The event was sponsored by KGNS TV.

      This is the third year that this city-wide event has been held.

      Food bank volunteers collected dollars and spare change at four Laredo street corners: Hillside-McPherson, Shiloh-McPherson,   Guadalupe-Meadow and Springfield-Del Mar . 

      The food bank thanks the community’s support and especially the volunteers from the St. Patrick Church ACTS  group headed by Alejandro Gonzalez and the Volunteers Serving the Need, a veterans group led by Gigi Ramos.

      Among the volunteers were KGNS staff members:  Juan Cue, Una Castillo, Tabatha Palacios, Lisa Estrada, Carlos Salinas, Ramiro Saucedo, Donato Volpe, Derick Moreno, Ryan Bailey, Richard Noriega and Jose Luis Salinas. Other that were out there braving the heat were community members and STFB staff members:  Maria Perla Orellano, Alejandro Avila, Eduardo Escamilla, Joseph Martinez Sr. and Jr., Eduardo Montalvo, Lorena Montalvo, Nelly  Uribe, Laura Otero, JoAnn Otero, Gabriel Price, Also, Abiel Canales Sr. and Jr., Luis F. Canales, Mauricio Canales, Irma Canales, Jose Vasquez, Mr. and Mrs.  Mario Navarro, Rosie C. Hinojosa, Jeannie Eads, Cindy Liendo,  Jorge Solis, German Solis, David Castillo, Haroeel Godinez, Merari Lopez and sister and Marissa Alvarez to name a few.

      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  19 sites.



    3. So. Texas Food Bank mobile van for rural areas

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      The South Texas Food Bank has  a colorfully-wrapped van that will be used  as a mobile unit  for  rural-area citizens to apply for health and  food benefits.

      The van, courtesy of the Le Fleur Transportation Company via a grant from State Rep. Richard Raymond  (D-Laredo,   was unveiled at the South Texas Food Bank, 1907 Freight at Riverside. Rep. Raymond,  Le Fleur’s  Jacqui De Los Santos, Julissa Garibay and Marilda Gonzalez,  and South Texas Food Bank personnel were on hand along with STFB staff members and  board members Doug Howland,  Jaime Arizpe and  Romeo Salinas.  Rural citizens will apply  for SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, CHIP and TANF  benefits. STFB executive director Alfonso Casso noted, “Our SNAP Outreach Program will use  it in colonias that are literally  in  the ‘monte’.  We are greatful to Rep. Raymond and Le Fleur.”

      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.    It serves an impoverished eight-county area from  Del Rio (Val Verde County)  to Rio Grande City (Starr County with  a 30-plus percent  poverty rate.  The website is and phone number (956) 726-3120.

       The South Texas Food Bank reached near record distribution  figures in April and May it was reported at the June  monthly  board  meeting. Casso told the board more than one million pounds (1,062,472)  of product were given out in May and more than 31,000 families   were served in April.

       The 1.06 million pounds is the highest since 1.23 million in May of 2011. It brings this  fiscal year’s total to 6,437,815  (6.4 million) pounds, which is ahead of last year’s 5,992,909 (5.9 million) pounds. In April, the STFB served 31,208 families numbering  76,530 individuals.  The figure was the highest this year and tops since 33,096 in June of 2013.

       South Texas Food Bank programs adopt a family distributed to 449 families and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) for the elderly served 6,848 individuals but  it has  a waiting list of 1,426. Other program  numbers for the month were SNAP Outreach,  325 applications representing 446 adults, 477 children; Kids Café at 19 sites, served an after school meal to   1,455 children Monday through Friday; and 171 picked up  emergency bags, representing 302 adults,269 children.

      “Our mission of feeding the hungry continues in a big way  because of the  need,” Casso said.  “Unemployment  is low at under six percent, but  hard-working people are having a tough time  making ends meet  and trying  to feed their families. The South Texas Food Bank is the safety net for  these vulnerable  neighbors.”



    4. South Texas Food Bank Empty Bowls VIII Aug. 22 at LEA, Featuring music by the Commodores, honoring Beaumont Foundation

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)


      Sen. Judith Zaffirini, representing the Beaumont Foundation, attended this morning's EBVIII Honoree & Entertainment announcement


      The South Texas Food Bank’s annual fundraiser, Empty Bowls VIII, is Aug. 22 at the Laredo Energy Arena. The event  honors  the  Beaumont Foundation of America for its  contribution to the  South Texas Food Bank mission of feeding   the hungry and  features  a   concert  by the Commodores,  the Grammy Award winning  musical  group of the 1970s and 80s.

      The announcement was made  at the  LEA  by  the  South Texas Food Bank board, Anna Galo, president;  Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo),  a  former Empty Bowls honoree;  Leslie Benavides,  chair  of the development committee;  and  Alfonso Casso,   South  Texas Food Bank executive director.

      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, 7,000 children and 500 veterans and their widows per month. Sixty percent of the annual budget comes  from  government sources  and the other  40 percent from  grants from non-profit groups,  private donations and fundraisers. STFB  executive director  Casso said,  “The South Texas Food Bank, serves many in our community who are in need of food assistance.  In order to be able to provide these services,  non-profit organizations such as ours, depend on grants and corporate donations, food drives and individual gifts.  These vary from year to year and because of the variance, it makes budgeting difficult.  In order to bring more stability to our operation, the Food Bank also depends heavily on fundraising.

      “The biggest fundraiser of the year for the STFB is our Empty Bowls event, now in its eighth year.  This is our largest single source of fundraising monies that helps us stay in operation and continue to serve the community.   It is no easy task for a non-profit to “stay in business” and this is our 25th year in operation.  We are grateful to the community for supporting us in all but especially this event.    We will be providing great entertainment for those coming to our event, the Commodores. Without the support of our grantors and donors, we could not do what we do and feed the thousands that are in need of food assistance.

      “On a monthly basis, we help feed between 27,000 and 33,000 families.  Can  anyone imagine how things would be if we were not here as a safety net? We can’t turn our backs on our fellow neighbors and friends that need help. Empty Bowls helps us to continue our mission.”

      About the Honoree
      The  Beaumont  Foundation , created in 2001,   is  a nonprofit grantmaking  institution  dedicated to enriching the lives and enhancing the futures of less fortunate children and youth, families and the elderly.  The Foundation provides grants and scholarships to a broad range of  charitable, religious  and educational organizations across the United States. Supported  are organizations that improve lives by giving people the tools to become  educated, healthy and self-reliant in the areas of education, health care,   children and youth programs, social services (food, shelter and clothing) and the Children of Fallen Heroes Program.

      The Beaumont Foundation is  headed by W. Frank Newton, President and Chief Executive Officer.  Its mission fits right into that of the South Texas Food Bank.   Prior  to his involvement with the Beaumont  Foundation, Newton was dean and professor of law at Texas Tech  University School of Law from 1985-2002.  He was professor of law at the Baylor Law School from 1972-1985.   A highly-respected  attorney and legal educator,  Newton helped devise the Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Account Program which has raised more than $100 million for legal aid services since 1984. Newton was named by Texas Lawyer Magazine as of the 102 most influential Texas  lawyers of the century, and the State Bar of Texas annually presents an award  in his name to lawyers who provide pro bono services. He has served as president of the State Bard of Texas and is an elected member  of the American Bar Foundation and the American Law  Insititute. STFB  executive director Casso  said, “The Beaumont Foundation has been an ardent supporter of our Food Bank for many years.  In fact, they are a big supporter of food banking in the entire State of Texas.  The types of grants they have awarded us have ranged from operations to food banking. They were instrumental in pushing us to improve our “branding” so that the community, both clients and donors, would be more aware of our services.

      ”They helped with the insulation of our warehouse which both protected the food we store and made the environment safer for our employees to work in especially during those extreme summer temperatures.  They helped improve our efficiency in our outreach program by providing us with several vehicles our staff could use to visit sites.  Grants of this nature are hard to come by these days but are much needed by non-profits such as ours.

      “In the last several years, BF has also given us grants specifically for food purchases.  These came at a very critical time when our government funding for food had decreased due to government budget cutbacks and there was also a decrease in donated food products from other major sources. The Beaumont Foundation has been there for us and we are most appreciative of their support of our mission to feed the hungry.”

      Casso noted,  it was through the efforts of  Sen. Judith Zaffirini  that the food bank made a contact with the Beaumont Foundation.  “We are blessed to have the Senator as an advocate and now she has brought  us the Beaumont Foundation,” Casso said. Beaumont Foundation  President Newton said, “The Beaumont Foundation, following the support of Senator Judy Zaffirini and organizations like the H-E-B Grocery Company, is pleased to be a supporter of the South Texas Food Bank.  The mission of the Foundation is dedicated to enriching the future of the less  fortunate children, youth, families and elderly.  To date the Beaumont Foundation has made grants totaling $500,000 to the South Texas Food Bank.  We are humbled, but proud, to be the honoree of the 8th Empty Bowls event.”

      About  the  Entertainment
      The Commodores  are legendary, beginning at Tuskegee Institute in 1968. They were discovered by Berry  Gordy  while   they were  the   opening act of the Jackson 5.  They went on to sell more than 60 million records over two decades – the 70s and 80s.   The  Commodores  racked up a string of hits including Machine Gun,  BrickHouse,  Sail On,  Oh No,  Slippery When Wet, To Hot Ta Trot and many others.

      Success, however, was not enough to save them from  changes in the music scene.   The departure in 1983 of Lionel Richey, co-lead vocalist along with Walter “Clyde” Orange, might have sunk a lesser group.  The Commodores continued as Commodores 13.  In 1984, before recording Night Shift, they re-established with British-born singer J.D.  Nicholas. Seven years later, the Commodores, with Orange, William “Wak” King and Nicholas,  began creating new digital  recordings of Commodores Classics. They produced four albums, including Commodores Christmas. The Commodores,  maintaining their place among the most successful entertainers in the world, continue to bring the talent and experience of three decades of writing, producing and performing hit music  to a whole new generation of fans.

      About the Tickets
      Sponsorship   tables of 10  that include  dinner and access to silent auction items are available.  A special sponsorship  this year is the Anniversary Sponsor at $25,000 in honor of the 25th anniversary.  The others remain at Diamond $20,000, Platinum $10,000, Gold $5,000, Silver $2,5000 and Bronze $1,500. Individual  table tickets are $150.  Table tickets  are available at the South Texas  Food Bank office, 1907 Freight at Riverside  or by calling (956) 726-3120 or  (956) 324-2432.

      Concert only  tickets are $10, $15 and $25.  They will be available after June 20 at the LEA box office and via ticketmaster.

      To download press release, click here.

    5. South Texas Food Bank agency conference thanks IBC, Commerce Bank

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      The  Laredo-based South  Texas  Food  Bank hosted  a one-day conference on April 15  at  the IBC Annex  on  Jacaman Road  for  the more than 80 affiliated agency members   who help distribute food  to carry the  STFB mission of  feeding the hungry  in eight counties  from Rio Grande City to Del Rio.  More than 100 agency  coordinators and assistants  attended the annual  event.

      “From  one  bank (the South Texas Food Bank) to another bank (IBC and Commerce),”  a  sincere and deeply-appreciated thank you  to community-minded  IBC and Commerce Bank presidents Dennis Nixon and Ignacio  Urrabazo  for the facility and  meal  on conference day.  Please keep a  continued  "interest" in the South Texas Food Bank.

       STFB  agency director Elia Solis called  the event,  “A  great success. This was  our  mandatory conference-workshop  in cooperation with   USDA and  Feeding  America.  With a poverty  rate at 30-plus percent  and difficult economic  times,  the  need in our service area is huge for the  basic of  all -- food.”  The STFB receives product from USDA through membership  in  the  Texas Food Bank  Network and  national Feeding America.

      Alfonso Casso Jr. ,  food bank executive director, lauded the agencies, “For the extremely  important work you do in getting product to the needy. Without you we  would not be as successful .  You are blessing  to the people we serve.   We need more groups like you.”   Representatives  from Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Starr, Dimmitt, Maverick, Val Verde and Kinney Counties  attended.

      The conference  included  presentations  by  Celia Cole,  director of the Texas Food Bank Network; Jesse Olivarez and Marissa Alvarez of the STFB staff on SNAP (formerly food stamps);  Dr. Erika Cavazos-Juarez of the Laredo Health Department on nutrition, health, wellness;  Cindy Liendo  of the food bank staff, on civil rights; Jose Medrano,  of Enroll America, on the Affordable  Care Act;  Roberto Cuellar,  Laredo ISD  Child Nutrition director, on summer feeding programs;  and Solis on CSFP, TexCap rules  and regulations. Casso also did an interactive presentation with some agency representatives. He instructed them how to prepare MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) that were donated to the food bank.

      The South Texas Food Bank,  open since 1989  in cooperation with H.E.B. and celebrating  25 years of service,  is located  in west Laredo,  1907 Freight at Riverside,  open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to noon and  1 to 5 p.m.  It can be reached at  (956) 726-3120 or and on twitter and facebook.   The STFB distributes supplemental food monthly to 30,000 families, 7,000 elderly, 7,000 children and 500 veterans and their widows. Sixty percent of the budget comes from state and federal government,  the other  40 percent from charitable  donations.  Tax deductible contributions  can be mailed  to PO Box 2007, Laredo, Tex., 78044.


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