SAN ANTONIO – It’s been 12 months of challenges but also opportunities. The San Antonio Food Bank reflected on one year of hard work feeding thousands of families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re taking this anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis to bring a level of stewardship and accountability and sharing what we’ve experienced, what we’ve learned and what we’re hopeful in the next year,“ San Antonio Food Bank President and CEO Eric Cooper said Wednesday.
Overnight, the demand for food doubled. Pre-pandemic, volunteers were feeding 60,000 families per week.
On average, 39% of the families helped were new to the food bank, while 37% had some connection to the military. Hospitality and food service industry layoffs added to the numbers of people requiring assistance.
“That sector for San Antonio was disproportionately impacted in this crisis. So many of our layoffs were in that sector and many military households were impacted,” Cooper said.
Cooper said the data report is a way to give the community an understanding of what the last year has looked like.
“You can read about some of the individuals that were impacted and serve their stories and how they were weathering the crisis of COVID-19. You’ll learn a little bit about the total number of families served, which was six hundred and twenty five thousand people that we touched,” Cooper said.
Out of the 625,000 people served, 19,000 received food by home delivery.
“You know, the phrase ‘it’s easier said than done’ is relevant. When you start to tabulate 160 million dollars in food that was flowing from this facility out into the rural communities, out into the urban sides of our city,” Cooper said.
Cooper said they will continue to work in shaping public policy at a national level, advocating to the current administration and USDA about the lessons learned around agriculture.
“Federal safety net programs play a critical role in putting food on the table,” Cooper said.
Cooper said they plan on making food more accessible with less lines and wait times.
“It’s painful for me to see a family wait. And so, you know, those parking lot distributions, you know, give us the ability to serve a lot of families. But with the use of technology in the future, we hope to start to narrow the wait time and try to get families food faster,” Cooper said.
To learn more on how you can help, visit the food bank’s website.