Summer can be a troubling time for underprivileged families in San Antonio. Utility bills rise due to sweltering temperatures and childcare costs increase when school is not in session, leaving many parents with less money to provide meals for their kids. For the San Antonio Food Bank, that means it’s the busiest time of the year.
According to San Antonio Food Bank President and CEO Eric Cooper, those extra costs paired with the absence of meals from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) “create a perfect storm,” and, thus, an increased demand for food in struggling households.
To help weather that “perfect storm,” the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) and the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) partnered with the Food Bank Thursday morning at the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex on 200 Noblewood Dr. to help distribute food in the ‘highest time of need’ to residents of the Eastside Promise Neighborhood area.
“(We’re) just lending a hand to the folks in the community who don’t have a lot,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said. “(We’re trying to) make their day better.”
Around 25 police officers and volunteers shared a sense of camaraderie as they wiped sweat from their brows and tossed items such as limes, bread, potatoes, onions, cereal, and meats into brown paper bags for families in need.
“San Antonio is diverse (and) has a good tradition of acceptance, working together, and addressing issues,” Cooper said. “Today we are addressing the issue of hunger with the great help of SAPD and SAPOA members.”
Families were prequalified and given vouchers to come to the distribution location on Thursday to pick up their bags of groceries, Cooper said. “The Food Bank is doing distributions like this every day throughout the community.”
The Food Bank’s Summer Food Service Program feeds children who usually depend on school breakfasts and lunches and provides meals to families during the summer break. Cooper said police officers have also assisted during the school year with the BackPack Program by “packing six meal pouches for kids and providing them to schools.”
McManus said that law enforcement will continue to lend a hand “every chance we get.”
“We’ve been partnering with (SAPD) for some time, assisting children that are food insecure and don’t have food for the weekend,” Cooper said. “SAPD coordinates the details on picking up the food from the Food Bank and getting them to the schools.”
McManus said that the Food Bank has been a great partner throughout the city, “and (we’re) certainly a part of that team.”
“When I think of SAPD, a lot of things they do are really behind the scenes,” Cooper added. “Just knowing some of the environment (in the country) with the stress of officers and community, we thought it would be good to try to pull off something that helps convene people.
“Food has the power to convene, it brings people to the table. I think of all the times in (the United States), now is the time that more of us need to be coming to the table, and there’s a place for everyone.”
To learn more, visit the San Antonio Food Bank’s website.
Top image: (left to right) San Antonio Police Capt. Troy Torres, Officer Kohlleppel, and Chief William McManus load paper bags with food for families in need. Photo by Scott Ball.