How Salvation Army is feeding, sheltering San Antonio community during COVID-19 crisis

Salvation Army of San Antonio is feeding four times more people than before pandemic in South Texas

SAN ANTONIO – When the coronavirus pandemic hit South Texas, the Salvation Army of San Antonio worked quickly to ensure its shelter residents would be safe.

The local chapter created a plan to continue to assist families and feed the community. That included closing its building to in-and-out foot traffic to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re not taking the traffic indoors, so we’ve moved our canteen truck outside,” said Brad Mayhar, spokesperson for the Salvation Army of San Antonio. “So twice a day, lunch and dinner. We’re sending meals out of the truck.”

Mayhar said they are now feeding more than four times the amount of people than before the crisis. They were already serving 50 lunches a day to the homeless or people that just needed a meal.

“The number was about 100 and then it went up to a 120 and now it’s approaching 140 a day,” said Mayhar. “So when you put lunch and dinner combined, we’re serving about 240 meals a day.”

The Salvation Army was initially not serving dinner but decided to meet the demand. Meals for the weekend was added to the organization’s plate.

“The response we’ve received from the people that come by has been really overwhelming, and people have been really grateful that we’re doing this to them,” said Mayhar.

Inside its shelters, Mayhar said they have continued essential services, which include feeding and assisting families in a variety of ways.

Case managers are working with residents remotely and electronically. Staff has increased the amount of cleaning and social distancing in the building.

“We want them to feel just as safe here is they would anywhere else,” said Mayhar. “We just have been really proactive. Safety has been the number one concern.”

With safety in mind, some programs have been temporarily suspended. The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio is closed, but families can still get meals there if they need to.

The Senior Nutrition Center is closed as well. But food is being handed out to seniors living at the Salvation Army’s housing location near Woodlawn Lake.

“Our elderly is among the most vulnerable so we definitely want to be extra cautious and take our time and get it right over there,” said Mayhar.

The Salvation Army is currently not taking drop off donations for the health of its workers and because some stores have closed.

Financial donations are welcome to help the Salvation Army continue their mission to serve those who need it most in our area.

“When people donate through our local Salvation Army web site, the money stays local and it helps our local programs here in San Antonio,” said Mayhar.

Click here for more information or to donate to the Salvation Army of San Antonio.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March. The first case confirmed in the U.S. was in mid-January and the first case confirmed in San Antonio was in mid-February.


About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.

Valerie Gomez is lead video editor and graphic artist for KSAT Explains. She began her career in 2014 and has been with KSAT since 2017. She helped create KSAT’s first digital-only newscast in 2018, and her work on KSAT Explains and various specials have earned her a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media and multiple Emmy nominations.