Mobile unit helps South Texas Food Bank SNAP outreach
2/5/2014 11:00:00 AM by
South Texas Food Bank’s mission of feeding the hungry
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (SNAP) Outreach
on a new
meaning with the addition of a
that was unveiled on
The mobile unit has been assigned to the South Texas Food Bank for the next two months to help sign up new SNAP clients. SNAP is formerly Food Stamps. The colorful vehicle, with the lettering Community Connections, is in cooperation with the Texas Food Bank Network and H-E-B. The South Texas Food Bank is the first of the 20-strong Texas Food Bank Network to use the unit. The STFB serves an impoverished eight-county area from Del Rio to Rio Grande City.
Julie Lara and David Ayala of the H-E-B Public Affairs Department delivered the $135,000 vehicle to the South Texas Food Bank at 1907 Freight at Riverside. They had a training session with the STFB outreach staff on its features. Alma Blanco is the SNAP Outreach coordinator. Her staff includes three working in Laredo-Webb County, Jim Hogg, Zapata and Dimmitt. Also, two are based in Maverick for Val Verde and Kinney and one in Starr County.
“The mobile van will give us better access to the community in helping clients sign up for benefits. Because it is wired for WiFi, our staff can register clients online for much quicker results,” food bank executive director Alfonso Casso said. “There are eight computers on board. There were times where in certain communities, we would set up tables in people’s back yards and by word of mouth, clients would show up. This unit has its own generator so we can set up anywhere.”
Blanco, the outreach coordinator since 2007 , said the average is almost 200 SNAP applications per month and almost 400 that include other benefits like CHIP, Medicaid for Children and women’s health programs.
“We’re working on educating the public that they might qualify for assistance. Some don’t know the guidelines and how the programs works. The SNAP on-demand pilot program is a huge plus. On demand, people have applied in the morning and by the afternoon they’re covered,” Blanco noted.
With a poverty rate of 30-plus percent, those who qualify in Laredo and South Texas are plentiful. Still millions of dollars earmarked to feed the hungry go unused because qualifying candidates do not apply for assistance. For information call the South Texas Food Bank (956) 726-3120 or check the website www.southtexasfoodbank.org.
South Texas Food Bank board members Erasmo Villareal and Doug Howland were on hand for the press conference that showed up the mobile vehicle in the food bank parking lot.
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