San Antonio Food Bank meets unprecedented challenge
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new season of need to thousands of people, and the San Antonio Food Bank is rising to the challenge.
Before the coronavirus, the food bank was providing food to 58,000 people each week. They’ve served as many double that since social distancing took effect, believing that “no child should go to bed hungry, adults should not have to choose between a hot meal and utilities, nor a senior sacrifice medical care for the sake of a meal.”
Humana saw the need and pledged $50,000 to the food bank’s efforts. Jackie Rivera, the Market Development Officer for Humana’s Bold Goal in San Antonio, explained that Humana and the San Antonio Food Bank have been partners for years, working to fight food insecurity in the community.
Humana’s efforts to improve population health, exemplified by our Bold Goal, involve working within communities to address social determinants of health and health-related social needs, such as access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
“When our leadership talked about addressing the COVID-19 crisis, it made sense to give to the San Antonino Food Bank,” Rivera said.
The food bank is the hub that fuels hundreds of pantry and food-distribution locations across 16 counties. People across the area look to the food banks, community centers, schools and churches for daily sustenance, so when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place and distribution hampered by social-distancing requirements, the San Antonio Food Bank began using creative, streamlined distribution plans.
Rivera said the food bank worked with the city of San Antonio and other partners to standardize large food distribution in centralized areas. Being a part of the community, and knowing the need, was important.
“We thought, ‘How do we keep Humana associates engaged in the food bank’s mission without crossing safety lines?’” Rivera said. “We created an online fundraising campaign with the associates saying ‘If you’d like to support the food bank, this is how you can do it monetarily.’ So we’re asking associates if they want to join our corporate pledge efforts.”
Additionally, there was a second campaign designed to fight social isolation. Suggested by Humana associate Diane Dorothy and called the Smile Campaign, it partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank to share messages of hope along with the food boxes.
“Associates and their families created notes, artwork and greeting cards – all with the purpose of creating smiles — and the food bank put them in the emergency food boxes,” Rivera said. Each box contains a 14-day supply of food for a household.
“The response of support was historic in depth and breadth, and it allowed the food bank to not only keep its doors open but to keep pace with a need for food at a level the community has never seen before,” said Eric Cooper, President and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank.