Today is the first day of the San Antonio Food Bank's summer meal program. Each day through August the staff and volunteers will handle the mammoth daily task of feeding students who are out of school.
Over the next 11 weeks they will serve over 300,000 meals as part of the Summer Food Service Program, a nationally organized program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food Bank CEO Eric Cooper said the program is designed to feed kids under 18 who depended on schools to provide them with a full meal.
“The challenge is that it’s very difficult to get kids to congregate," Cooper said. "Schools provide a great convening through busses, logistics, they get them all to the school, so it’s easy to feed them all at once. But now that they’re home, spread in homes, apartments, neighborhoods, getting them back together to get them nourished can be a challenge.”
According to Feeding America, Bexar County is the 13th highest food insecure county in the U.S. with 26 percent of children having difficulty finding food. Over the end of last week, hundreds of volunteers and staff spent their time packaging up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, string cheese, apples and other items in to small bags for distribution.
Cooper said every day these meals will be taken to 200 different sites like the Boys and Girls Club and community centers.
“Wherever kids are congregated, 12 or more kids, we’re going to try figure out how do we get those kids fed,” Cooper said. “From the main kitchen here at the San Antonio Food Bank trucks will be making those deliveries all summer long to those different sites.
The meals themselves will vary between hot and cold entrees and sides. Much of the food that comes in for these meals is donated but for every dollar that comes in the Food Bank is able to create seven meals. Partnerships have also been made with several local farmers to provide fresh vegetables.
This is a process that will be ongoing every day until summer is over making it the most demanding time for the food bank. The meals are available to children 18 years old and younger, a full list of sites is available at the food bank’s website.