BY SALO OTERO, South Texas Food Bank marketing director
The South Texas Food Bank, serving supplemental food to the unemployed, underemployed and those living on fixed incomes, will continue to have a significant niche in the lives of this area’s residents for years to come. Celia Cole, CEO of the 21-strong Texas Food Bank Network based in Austin and Fort Worth, visited the South Texas Food Bank recently, attending the monthly board meeting at the Laredo Commerce Bank community suite. Cole, native of New Haven, Connecticut, graduate of Columbia University and in Texas for 20-plus years, lauded STFB board president Kevin Romo and members and executive director Alfonso Casso and staff “for the work you do in the mission of feeding the hungry.” She told the board, “Food banks have a lot of challenges ahead, facing cuts in federal and state budgets. But we have a good reputation of meeting the needs of the poor. The future of food banks? There will be continued growth and demand until the economy gets better.” Cole noted the national farm bill has yet to pass in Washington, D.C. The current bill will be extended through September, but the threat of cuts looms to programs that help the poor like SNAP (formerly food stamps). Cole urged advocacy for the South Texas Food Bank. “We must remain vigilant that the less fortunate will not be affected and continue to build relationships to get the word out on behalf of our clients to our representatives Henry Cuellar and Pete Gallego,” Cole emphasized. Romelia Cardona is a member of the STFB board. Cuellar is from Laredo and Gallego from Alpine. Both serve the eight-county area from Rio Grande City to Del Rio that includes the South Texas Food Bank. And likewise at the state level Cole added, “Keep talking to our people in Austin. The 83rd Legislature is in session and the primary goal is to protect the funding we have, adding more with outreach and partnerships.” The South Texas Food Bank ranks ninth among the TFBN’s 21 food bank. The STFB distributed 726,687 pounds of product in December bringing the first three months of the 2013 fiscal year total to 2,200,553 (2.2 million) pounds from October through December. The food bank served 50,012 families in October and November, including 38,196 children, 79,972 adults and 129,055 meals. Program numbers for December are 483 bags in adopt a family, 7,078 in Commodity Supplmental Food Program (CSFP), 210 applications for SNAP (formerly food stamps) representing 266 adults, 314 children, 775 children daily served an after school meal at 15 Kids Cafés and 69 applicants for emergency bags representing 141 adults, 130 children. The South Texas Food Bank distributed 54,393 pounds of product during December in Maverick County at seven sites, including four precincts under the direction of Becky Baxter Bellow, who can be reached at (830) 757-6424 at the Maverick County Food Pantry and Family Services.
The other sites in Eagle Pass that distribute food to the needy of Maverick County are:
• Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, Reservation, Teresa Garza, coordinator (830) 421-5359.
•San Lucas Lutheran Church 1725 Edison Road, Paul Bailie coordinator (830) 773-9320.
• Primera Iglesia Bautista, 520 Colorado St., Pastor Felix Castillo (830) 968-3991.
Patrons must call to get the hours of distribution. Also, the STFB can be reached by calling (956) 726-3120 and information on the website www.southtexasfoodbank org. Tax deductible donations can tbe mailed to 1907 Freight St., Laredo, Tex., 78041.