Free breakfast tacos in exchange for a completed 2020 Census form

Neighborhoods on the West Side come together to increase representation for the census

SAN ANTONIO – Community leaders on the city’s West Side came up with a creative approach to get as many people accounted for in the 2020 Census as possible.

“I figured, hey, sometimes if there’s food, they’ll come,” Velma Peña said. Peña represents the Westwood Square Neighborhood Association, one of 14 communities that makes up the Westside Neighborhood Associations Coalition.

On Sunday morning, the coalition gave out free breakfast tacos to anyone who stopped to complete the 2020 Census form at the Las Palmas shopping plaza off of Castroville Road.

“We kind of joke that whenever there’s tacos, there’s going to be a crowd,” Victor Landa said. Landa is the communications director for District 5 Councilwoman, Shirley Gonzáles.

“This is a community that is historically undercounted,” Landa said. “Seven billion dollars worth of federal funds that are targeted from the census go to things like street and road repair, to health, to safety, elder care, child nutrition, and if they’re not counted, then those funds will not be available to them.”

The coalition wanted to come up with a creative approach to raise awareness on what’s at stake if people don’t complete the questionnaire. Although census takers have been knocking on doors, the Westside Neighborhood Associations Coalition is aware not many are opening their doors due to COVID-19 precautions.

“There are pockets in the West Side, the specific zip codes (like 78207 where) the self-reporting count is at about 48%, where the national average, right now, is at about 61%,” Landa said.

A gap they work hard to bridge one form and one taco at a time.

As of now, the group doesn’t have another census event planned.

For more information and to fill out the 2020 Census online, visit the official United States 2020 Census website.

RELATED: Community organizers create incentives for filling out 2020 Census through family-friendly events

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.