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Food Bank plans to feed 100,000 kids a day with new culinary center

(SBG photo)
(SBG photo)
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Hunger continues to be a critical issue for San Antonio, with poverty rates skyrocketing in the city over the past couple of years. To help alleviate the problem, the Food Bank announced plans today to build a culinary center that will prepare 100,000 meals for children each day.

But even that total might not be enough to feed all of the hungry kids - and their parents - in the area.

"We know someone that's hungry just has one issue," says Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the Food Bank. "Until you solve that one issue, you can't start to address the complexity of poverty.

The demand for the Food Bank's services increases every day.

"It's just getting worse," Cooper says.

City Council has made the issue a priority, a point councilman Roberto Trevino of District 1 reiterated today.

"That's a need out there that needs to be addressed," he says. "Food and security is a top concern for all of us."

The Food Bank sees the impact of poverty on a daily basis. It's why they created a training program to work with residents interested in learning skills ranging from cooking to nutrition.

"I've been at times where I was hungry for a day or so," says Victor, who preferred to go by his first name only when we interviewed him at the Food Bank where he is taking culinary classes. "You don't focus right. You're drained."

Victor has a family of five to feed. At times, it's a huge challenge.

"The Food Bank's really helped a lot," he says. "Hopefully they're giving me an opportunity to get a better paying job. The cost of living for a family is really a struggle. It's hard."

New census numbers put 20 percent of San Antonio's population under the poverty line, a jump of 17 percent in the last two years.

"When you think about that, we should all be sad," Cooper says.

A larger community dialogue along with greater awareness is critical to lowering those shocking numbers. So is more help from public and private foundations, along with individual contributions.

"It's going to take conversations about affordable housing, livable wages, race, equity, nourishment," Cooper says, to reduce the poverty numbers.

The Food Bank is also launching an initiative in New Braunfels to build an apartment complex next to its facility in Comal County, helping needy families in that high-growth area too.

"We're seeing a flood of families coming in to get food there too," Cooper says. "People can't afford to live and work in New Braunfels. The Food Bank will step into that space. We're excited about that."

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Ground should be broken for both the culinary center and apartment complex next year. Completion is targeted for 2021.

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