NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Helping fight hunger and feed families. That’s the mission from local food banks, but that’s also become a bit harder to accomplish for the San Antonio area
The New Braunfels Food Bank is in need of donations as the region and demand for food continues to grow.
“The last few years have been kind of unpredictable. We do feel stretched thin,” said Monica Borrego, executive director of New Braunfels Food Bank.
Borrego said the food bank is helping more families every month due to a combination of a rise of the cost of living and inflation.
“Your grocery store bill has gone up a lot in the last few years. Gas prices go up and down. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, that little bit of extra money that you’re having to put to those places can really put you in a bind,” Borrego said.
The New Braunfels Food Bank primarily serves families in Comal and Guadalupe counties, two of the fastest growing areas in the country.
According to Texas Dept. of Health and Human Services, people who enrolled for SNAP benefits from January 2020 to October 2023 increased by 8.5% in Guadalupe County alone.
“We were at about 2,500 families a month prior to COVID. We’ve seen the steadiness of this number now for maybe about a year, so about 3,800 families a month are coming through now,” Borrego said. “Typically, when the holidays roll around, we’re seeing about 30 to 40% more families that are going to come to us and access help.”
With higher demand comes the need for more help. Canyon Lake resident Toni Urban has volunteered at the food bank since 2020 and seen first hand the need for donations.
“This is the only food bank in this area. Then you have people that you can’t reach because they don’t have transportation,” Urban said.
Urban said keeping shelves stocked can be difficult, but it’s rewarding work for volunteers.
“They can bring their children and accompany them to let them see what this is all about, and let them feel good about what they’re doing,” Urban said.
Borrego said the food bank has about 1,000 volunteers that go in every month and are always in need of more help.
“Without those volunteers, we would not be able to make ends meet. Right now, we’re struggling for enough appointment times for people to come in and get food. We’re having to reconfigure a little bit how we do that, so we can reach the amount of people that are in need,” Borrego said.
But Borrego said the goal is still to feed families especially during the holiday months.
“Hunger is everywhere and sometimes you don’t see it as much, but it’s there. There’s food banks all over the country that are working hard to fight food insecurity,” Borrego said. “$1 equals seven meals. $1 equals 10 pounds of food. We can stretch that dollar a long way.”