Blog

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. 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 www.southtexasfoodbank.org,  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.

      -###-

    2. South Texas Food Bank served 9.5 million pounds during fiscal year

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      The  South Texas  Food  Bank distributed  9.57 million pounds  of  product equivalent  to just over one million  meals during  the fiscal year that ended  Sept. 30. The  numbers  were reported  by STFB executive director Alfonso Casso at the  recent October monthly board  meeting at Commerce Bank. The  9.5 million pounds surpasses by 42,000 pounds  last year’s total.  Meals  served  last year were 919,746 compared to 1,003,485 over the last 12 months

      A 501 c-3 nonprofit,  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 28,000  families, 7,000-plus elderly and 500 veterans and their widows per month.  The  Kids Café program at 23 sites serves an after school meal to an  average of 1,600 children  2,560 meals Monday through Friday.

      “The  South Texas Food Bank mission of feeding the hungry continues to be huge.  Hard-working wage earners     have   difficulty  making ends meet and  the  food bank is their safety net for food insecurity, ” Casso said.

       He noted the USDA and TDA-sponsored CSFP program, mostly for elderly 60 and over, has an average  waiting list of  1,300. The adopt a family program serves 450 per month with a waiting list  averaging  between 60 and 90.  Emergency  walk-in bags  average  200  per month compared to a 141 average last  fiscal year.

      It was  announced  that longtime board member Erasmo Villarreal has been named to the Leadership Council of  Feeding Texas (formerly Texas Food Bank Network) and businessman Hugo Flores is a new board member, replacing Tano Tijerina, who resigned. The  STFB board meets  at noon  the second Wednesday of  every month at Commerce Bank on Mann Road.  Anna B. Galo is the board president.

      The  Texas Food Bank Network  has  formally  marked a name change to Feeding Texas

      “Our new name is an important reflection of our new mission – to lead a unified effort for a hunger-free Texas.  You can learn more on our new website, www.feedingtexas.org,”   Celia Cole,  chief executive  officer of Feeding Texas, said.

      When the organization was founded in 1986 as the Texas Association of Second Harvest Food Banks (TASHFB), it was when food banks themselves were first taking root. At the time the name reflected  status as a trade association of sorts.  The group existed to represent food bank interests and provide a forum for newly-minted food banks to communicate, coordinate and negotiate.

      In 2006, a switch to the Texas Food Bank Network (TFBN) recognized  the organization had evolved and become more complex. No longer just a passive channel of communication, TFBN was guiding  food banks in becoming a more effective, cohesive and collaborative network of hunger relief organizations through technical assistance, new statewide partnerships and a stronger voice in public policy debates.

      Feeding Texas  CEO Cole  added, “Feeding Texas represents the next step in our evolution—to serve as a leader among all Texans who believe that hunger doesn’t belong here—and reflects our commitment to go beyond hunger relief to improve the health and economic stability of the people we serve.

      “We remain, as always, a statewide network of extremely dedicated and effective member food banks. But in our new role we want to go beyond leading food banks, to leading the collective action needed to solve hunger in Texas. Hunger is a problem that we can solve, but only if we act together. Texas is blessed with ample agriculture and a thriving economy. We have the knowledge and the resources necessary to create a hunger-free state. Families, charities, businesses and government all have a role to play—and we all stand to benefit.  Feeding Texas is here to identify and nurture those opportunities to collaborate and succeed.”

      The South Texas  Food Bank (STFB),  celebrating  its 25th anniversary,  is part of  the 20-member  Feeding Texas  network. It is located in west Laredo at 1907 Freight at Riverside.  It 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,  also a member of  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 28,000  families, 7,000 elderly and 500 veterans and their widows per month.  And  serving  an average of 1,600 children 2,500 meals Monday through Friday  in the Kids Café program at  23 sites. Alfonso Casso is the executive director. Telephone number is 726-3120 and on the website www.southtexasfoodbank.org.

       

      -###-

    3. Thank you Meg Guerra, LareDOS for being a South Texas Food Bank partner

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      Yes, the South Texas Food Bank mission of feeding the hungry is  one of the most important, if not the most important,  in  all of Laredo. Afterall, in the hierarchy of needs, food ranks No. 1. And with the poverty rate of 30-plus percent, food insecurity ranks high among our friends and neighbors in South Texas.

      It is impossible for a non-profit  501 c3  organization like the South Texas Food Bank to do its mission alone.  The STFB needs “co-missioners”, aka advocates.

      High on the list as one of the greatest supporters of the South Texas Food Bank has been Meg Guerra and her monthly  tabloid publication, LareDOS. 

      Every LareDOS edition since 2007 has included a column with information  about  the  South Texas Food Bank.  The column, written by Salo Otero, South Texas Food Bank Marketing Director, has brought awareness to the  hunger issue in our community.

      Unfortunately, the talented journalist Meg Guerra published her last issue of LareDOS this past September.  Her “30 Good Night and Good Luck” cover ended the ride. It was a business decision.

      The  South Texas Food Bank staff, headed by executive director Alfonso Casso and board  of directors,  headed  by board president Anna Benavides Galo,  want to sincerely express their gratitude to Maria Eugenia (Meg) Guerra  for being  a friend of  the food bank all these years.  

      To Meg: Many a time you would comment, “You (the South Texas Food Bank) are really doing God’s work.” And you, certainly were instrumental in this work.  Once again “gracias” for your labor of love.   May God continue to bless you and your future endeavors.

      -###-

    4. Four AmeriCorps Vistas join South Texas Food Bank

      by Salo Otero | Comments (0)

      One summer intern and three year-long  AmeriCorps Vista program volunteers are now part  of the  South Texas Food  Bank mission of feeding the hungry.  

      The four women  are  from Laredo.

      South Texas Food Bank executive director Alfonso  Casso Jr.  announced the new staff members --   Ithiel  Benavides ,  Angelica  Analee  “Angie” Sifuentes,  Sonia L. Rocha  and Pamela S.  Guerra.

      “All will be working on building awareness on the hunger issues affecting Laredo and the area,” Mike Kazen,  South Texas Food Bank chief financial officer and human resources manager, said. 

      Most of the  focus will  be on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps. AmeriCorps Vista volunteer Sarah Lamm, a native of  Washington D.C., completed her year of work at the South Texas Food Bank, paving the way for Benavides, Sifuentes, Rocha and Guerra.  

      Kazen  reported  to the STFB board at its July monthly meeting, “While  Sarah is winding down, we’re just winding up (with four new faces).”

      Lamm was a guest at the board meeting.  Casso  praised her work. “She did a great job,”  Casso said. Lamm, daughter of Dr.  Steve Lamm, M.D., and Joanne, a retired speech pathologist,  noted her positive expierence in Laredo.  “I learned a lot.”   Lamm helped with  SNAP and building a volunteer base.  She coordinated the viewing of the hunger awareness documentary  “A Place at the Table,” at LCC and TAMIU  and a  lecture visit at TAMIU by anti-hunger specialist Joel Berg of the  New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

      The VISTAs work in cooperation with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, Feeding Texas (formerly  Texas Food Bank Network), USDA, Walmart and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

      Benavides, a 2011 Nixon High School grad, was the summer intern through August. She is  a senior-to-be at the University of Texas-Pan American in social work studies. She  assisted with SNAP. Her volunteer experiences have been with the diabetes walkathon,  HEB Feast of Sharing, Bethany House, Teens  in the Driver Seat and Catholic Social Services.

      Sifuentes, out of Nixon High School,  is a recent TAMIU Bachelor of Artsand Sciences graduate.  She will assist in the STFB health area. She has volunteered with Veterans Serving the Need and organizing  local poetry readings.

      Rocha, also from Nixon (2006), is a 2012 TAMIU graduate in applied science for criminal justice with a minor in public affairs and social sciences. Guerra,  a 2008 United South grad, is a recent Texas A&M graduate with a degree in poultry science and minor in agriculture communication and journalism. She is working her masters in public administration at TAMIU.

      About the food bank

      The  501c3 non-profit 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.  It also serves an average of 1,500 children  2,500 meals Monday through Friday  in the  Kids  Café program at  19 sites, including 15 in Laredo-Webb County.  The STFB is located at 1907 Freight at Riverside in west Laredo. The phone number is (956) 726-3120 and website www.southtexasfoodbank.org   Tax deductible monetary donations can be mailed to 1907 Freight, Laredo, 78041.

      -###-

    5. 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.

       

      -###-

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

    Sign up for our e-newsletter

     
    Sign Up

    Manage your e-mail subscription