San Antonio – 4/11/20 Update:
After seeing 10,000 people show up to the San Antonio Food Bank’s mega food distribution at Trader’s Village, one San Antonio woman is challenging those in her community to pour donations into the non-profit during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ambika Mathur, graduate school dean with the University of Texas-San Antonio, donated $20,000 to the food bank in an effort to help them stay afloat as the demand for food increases.
“It is not about me or my husband,” Mathur said. “It is about serving those who need it the most. This community is so great and to see that many people needing food was shocking.”
Now, Mathur said she challenges others to pitch in to help as well.
“I think our community needs to band together with whatever we can contribute at this time,” Mathur said. “It is going to be so important to get us back on track. I challenge everybody to contribute whatever they can, match what we are doing, exceed what we are doing, do whatever they can do and what they are able to do. Let’s get through this together.”
If you would like to accept Mathur’s challenge, visit the San Antonio Food Bank’s website to make a donation.
The San Antonio Food Bank CEO fears the possibility of running out of food as the need increases during the coronavirus pandemic.
During the nonprofit’s food distribution at Trader’s Village on Thursday, more people than expected showed up for food.
“I was driving the other side of Loop 410, looking over at this line, and at that moment, I said to my team, ‘We’re going to need more food,’ said Eric Cooper, CEO of the SA Food Bank. “This is insane."
Cooper said in total, 10,000 people showed up, which is 4,000 more than the expected pre-registered people.
“We just had to make a decision. ‘Do we turn families away, or do we meet that need?' So we were able to get to pre-qualify those folks,” Cooper said. “Now, not everybody that showed up we were able to qualify, but those that did were able to get food.”
Cooper said it is because of his team that they were able to meet the increased need.
“Our logistics team, SAPD managing the car lines and hundreds of volunteers -- we were able to do it,” Cooper said.
He believes a part of the reason why the need has doubled from 60,000 people per week to 120,000 people per week during the pandemic is due to the loss of jobs and school campus closures.
“I think that’s what we saw yesterday. (There were) so many families who have no more money, and they were scrambling to put gas in their cars to show up at a distribution where they hope to get groceries,” Cooper said.
Cooper fears as the demand for food grows, the food supply will struggle sooner than later.
“We work with farmers and growers,” Cooper said. “We work with food manufacturers, grocery retailers, restaurants, hotels and caterers. Now, the restaurant, hotels and catering food are gone. We’re not getting that. The food from retailers -- they’re selling out, and we’re struggling to get as much as we’re used to getting."
He said for the first time in the nonprofit’s 40-year history, they are having to seek help from the federal government through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“If we don’t get some type of intervention from FEMA or the state of Texas, I know we’re going to run out of food,” Cooper said. “I mean, we just don’t have enough to meet this new demand.”
Cooper said though assistance is coming, it may take up to 90 days.
“You know, people have to eat between now and then, and we’re going to be reliant on just what we’re able to collect through philanthropy, and unfortunately, philanthropy isn’t going to make up the difference in the shortfall that we’re having,” Cooper said.
If you would like to see how you can make a donation, pre-register for food or volunteer, visit the San Antonio Food Bank’s website. The organization plans to host another mega food distribution on April 17 at the Alamodome.