03/28/2015 by | 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.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:
03/18/2015 by | 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 www.southtexasfoodbank.org 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.”
12/03/2014 by | 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.-###-
10/14/2014 by | 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.