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San Antonians know food insecurity is a major problem. Here’s where, and how people are responding.

Lots of Love group continues food distribution, grocery card giveaway on South Side

 

Mary Claire Patton, Digital Journalist

Stephanie Serna, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO – Food insecurity is a major issue facing the San Antonio area, according to 54% of likely Bexar County voters who responded to the newly released Bexar Facts-KSAT12-Rivard Report poll.

The problem — intensified by the pandemic — was on full display earlier this month on the South Side, when thousands of families formed miles-long lines of cars for the San Antonio Food Bank’s food distribution site.

Another example came Monday, when organizers of an initiative called Lots of Love hosted a food distribution and grocery card giveaway at the Pica Pica Plaza, also on the South Side. Managing partner of the plaza, Al Honigblum, founded Lots of Love to turn empty parking lots into a way to help people in need.

“As business owners and community leaders, we felt we needed to do more so, we raised the bar to raise a million dollars to try to feed 3,500 to 4,000 families,” said Honigblum. “And, just as people in the community to try and help and do our part to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

Lots of Love will be collaborating with the San Antonio Food Bank to host four more food distributions at the Pica Pica Plaza at 910 SE Military Dr.

The distributions are scheduled for April 29, May 1, May 5 and May 7 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (Donations to Lots of Love can be made by visiting https://my.safoodbank.org/lotsoflove.)

Traders Village, the site of the food bank’s massive distribution event on April 9, is located in ZIP code 78242, which is one of seven ZIP codes flagged by a Texas nonprofit as being most at risk for children without access to food.

Children at Risk, an advocacy organization that reports statewide, non-partisan research aimed at addressing the causes of poor public policies affecting children, released data this week that shows seven San Antonio-area ZIP codes where children are most at risk for food insecurity.

All seven ZIP codes are in central and south San Antonio, where there is less access to nearby grocery stores and residents tend to have lower incomes.

For example, the closest H-E-B is about 17 minutes away from the Southside Independent School District administration building, located in ZIP code 78221 with several of its schools.

The Children at Risk data shows children who live in the following ZIP codes are most at risk:

  • 78207
  • 78242
  • 78202
  • 78221
  • 78211
  • 78224
  • 78237

“COVID-19 has burdened Texas families in so many ways,” said president and CEO of Children at Risk Bob Sanborn. “From school closures to lost jobs, and now limited or no access to food, our children are suffering tremendously, and many may never get back to normal.”

One mother who has been helped by these distributions, Melissa Gomez, said she and her four children have been through a lot, so the help goes a long way.

“I couldn’t buy anything for my daughter for her birthday because we are going through a situation,” said Gomez. “And, with the gift card I was able to buy her something yesterday with the gift card and it’s been really a blessing for us.”

Aerial footage of San Antonio Food Bank distribution site a stark reminder of economic crisis during pandemic

The data is based on information from the National School Lunch Program which identifies the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-cost meals. Additional information for Children at Risk’s data was pulled from the San Antonio Area Food Bank and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

Many San Antonio-area school districts are trying to ensure students still have access to food during school closures by providing free curbside meal services.

School districts around the world have announced closures and Gov. Greg Abbott announced on April 17 that Texas classrooms will be closed for the remainder of the school year.

Children at Risk compiled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index, which indicates the areas with high concentrations of people who are considered vulnerable during a crisis.

The index data includes socioeconomic status, household composition and disability status, minority/language status, and housing and transportation status, according to Children at Risk. The black dashed areas indicate school districts where more than 50% of students are enrolled in free and reduced-cost meals.

The Bexar Facts-KSAT-Rivard Report poll was conducted from April 16-20 by phone and internet. It includes responses from 668 registered Bexar County voters of different income and education levels, race, age, gender and political party affiliation. Four out of five respondents answered in English, while one out of five answered in Spanish. The poll’s margin of error is 4%.

Didn’t get called for the poll, but still want to have your voice heard? Take the poll, via Bexar Facts, here.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March. The first case confirmed in the U.S. was in mid-January and the first case confirmed in San Antonio was in mid-February.

Via ksat.com