Empty shelves at San Antonio Food Bank spark worries ahead of summer

Donations for food are down while requests for assistance increase

Requests for assistance from the San Antonio Food Bank are higher now than they were in December, but the food bank says there are not enough donations.

SAN ANTONIO – Shelves at the San Antonio Food Bank are starting to collect dust as there are not enough donations coming into the organization.

“If you walked through our warehouse, you could almost see it went into the other -- through the shelves because it’s mostly empty of the nonperishable food items,” said Michael Guerra, the San Antonio Food Bank chief development officer. “We’ve been in a little bit of a perfect storm.”

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Inflation and higher rent and gas prices have contributed to the increase of individuals requesting assistance from the food bank, Guerra said.

“The gains that people made in their wage have been eroded, and for most of them, what that means is they’re actually worse now than they were before the pandemic, even with a higher wage,” Guerra said. “Our numbers are actually up compared to how they were in December and with summer looming. And that means kids who are going to be out of school aren’t getting breakfast or lunch at school. That’s actually the biggest wave that we’re concerned about.”

The food bank expects even more families will be in need in the months to come.

“Summer is always our highest time of need. Just hands down, it’s when it spikes,” Guerra said. “We know that there’s going to be a continued need for food for kids. And so we’re going to have to step in, right?”

The need for items including peanut butter, jellies, rice, beans and other nonperishable food items is immediate at the San Antonio Food Bank.

“When need is going up, and food is going down, that bind is where something like this food drive becomes really important,” Guerra said.

The San Antonio Food Bank depends on community partners like the United States Postal Service to stock the shelves.

“Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is traditionally the largest one-day food drive in San Antonio every year. It’s an opportunity that our local letter carriers get together and collect food from home porches.”

On Saturday, May 14, San Antonio’s Letter Carriers will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

“We have letter carriers across the city that will be going out and collecting food from everybody’s mailboxes, everybody that leaves any kind of food on the mailboxes,” said Richard Gould, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Alamo Branch 21. “It’d be nice to go to every single house with two to three cans of food.”

According to Guerra, millions of pounds of canned items are needed to stock the shelves at the warehouse in time for the summer.

To donate to the San Antonio Food Bank, click here.

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.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.