San Antonio Food Bank (SAFB) reception area, in San Antonio TX, on Monday, October 31, 2011, nutrition coordinator Nagelli Rodriguez provided tips, in English and Spanish; and printed information about making healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare food choices when using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This lesson featured pancakes with pumpkin (or other fall and winter squash) and walnut. The pancakes are made with whole-wheat flour, and served with (low-glycemic) Agave nectar. Traditional pancakes offer starch and sugar, where these offer the flavor boost of pumpkins (vegetables) and walnuts (protein), and whole-wheat flour (high-fiber). The colorful sugar skull on the counter is part of the Mexican culture to honor those who have past, during Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos), held on November 1-2. San Antonio Food Bank is a non-profit organization that serves as a clearinghouse by receiving and storing truckloads of donated food, produce, and other grocery. Beyond the glass wall, the first of many multi-tiered pallet racks, full of commodities that come and go through SAFB as they distribute these items to over 500 service agencies that help people in need.
“We couldn’t do what we do without our partnership with USDA’” said President and CEO Eric Cooper. He continues, “We are privileged in partnering (with the USDA) to feeding kids, through the summer, with the Summer Food Service Program, and throughout the year, with the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP). Then in our approach to feeding seniors, we partner with USDA in the Commodities Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and the Senior Farmer’s Market (Nutrition) Program. And then work to bring all our (needy) parties together with our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach. You know, once families have access to food we believe it is important to educate them. Through the support of the SNAP-Education Program we are able to educate them during their time of need. With this comprehensive approach we are really able to get the right food, at the right amount, at the right time, to needy families throughout our community – which allows us to feed the fifty-eight thousand we do, each week.”
SAFB serves 16 counties in Southwest Texas and states, “Nearly one out of every four children and one out of every five adults in Southwest Texas lives in poverty and has difficulty meeting basic nutritional needs.” According to SAFB, sixty-five percent of the people requesting emergency food have children. “Additionally, the senior citizens and those living on a fixed income generally have limited funds for a consistent grocery budget.”
San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the nation with surrounding farms and ranches near its rivers and water supplies. When available they provide fresh surplus produce. Other commodities come from the food industry and manufacturers. The major food brand companies that for various reasons have surplus commodities donate it to SAFB.
The United States Department of Agriculture donates commodities through programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), while Texas farmers supply fresh produce to their Fresh Produce Program.
Public donations come in the form of money, food, volunteer time, and advocacy. Their fleet of trucks to pickup and deliver food as needed. USDA photo by Lance Cheung
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