Food giveaway at Alamodome leads to traffic backups downtown

2,000 people took advantage of SA Food Bank’s latest distribution

Businesses may be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic but traffic congestion still took over an area just east of downtown Friday morning.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Businesses may be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic but traffic congestion still took over an area just east of downtown Friday morning.

The miles-long stream of cars was headed to the Alamodome for the San Antonio Food Bank’s latest mega food distribution event.

San Antonio Food Bank sees largest crowd yet for drive-thru distribution

A spokesman for the food bank said about 2,000 people had preregistered for the drive-thru giveaway.

Rachel Flores, unfortunately, was not one of them.

“We’re waiting until they move so that way we could get out because they turned us away,” she said, a bit frustrated.

Flores didn’t know about the preregistration requirement and spent more than two hours, first waiting in traffic and then sitting in the Alamodome parking lot, trying to leave.

Police officer helps to usher traffic into the Alamodome parking lot for a food giveaway. (KSAT 12 News)

Lillian Lopez did sign up and hoped to beat the traffic that she knew would show up.

“We got here approximately at 7:15,” Lopez said. “Driving down the road, there was no traffic.”

When she turned a corner, though, she found a four-block-long backup.

Lopez said it took about an hour to make it from that point into the parking lot, where she still had to wait for the 10 a.m. event to begin.

“It is what it is,” said Ben Hernandez, referring to the heavy traffic he found.

Hernandez showed up hoping to help feed some of his elderly relatives.

“I’m willing to spend three hours in line to get them fruits and vegetables and meat,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez found out later that there was a problem with his preregistration.

While Hernandez left without any food, he decided to do a giveaway of his own. He offered coupons for his laundry business to other people in line.

“I’m gonna give everybody $20, free. For laundry, for laundry rates,” Hernandez said.

He helped to ease some of the headaches for others.

San Antonio police, meanwhile, seemed to have their hands full directing all of the traffic.

One supervisor on scene described the traffic congestion as “controlled chaos,” although he said there were no major problems.

Valero and the Valero Energy Foundation provided the food bank with a $400,000 donation, with $350,000 of those funds going to food costs, $10,000 for fuel expenses and $40,000 in Valero fuel cards.

During Friday’s distribution, 2,000 families received 100 pounds of food and a $20 Valero fuel card, the company said.

“In addition, Valero’s San Antonio employees participated in a 14-day Virtual Food Drive and raised $35,000, which was 250% more than initially targeted and matched by a Valero Energy Foundation contribution of $35,000, for a total of $70,000,” Valero said in a statement to KSAT.

About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.