When the COVID-19 crisis first hit San Antonio and the food and supply hoarding was at its peak, I remember the sinking feeling I got as I opened my refrigerator and looked at my kitchen counters and saw our own food supply dwindling. Empty shelves, no more fresh fruit, and hardly any fresh vegetables, no fresh eggs, just a couple of boiled ones. My husband and I were cutting back on our eating, even skipping meals, just to make the food last longer knowing grocery store shelves were growing sparse, time slots for curbside pick up were getting harder to come by and supply chains, in general, were out of whack. Every bite mattered, being even more careful not to waste any food. All the while knowing that we had money in the bank, operable vehicles with full tanks of gas, credit cards to use if necessary, and feeling hopeful that we could expect paychecks for the foreseeable future. Yet, suddenly, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs popped into my head as I felt my family’s basic need for food threatened.
But take away a few of those assurances I just listed, and that’s the insecurity that many of our fellow San Antonians, our neighbors, our children’s classmates, our fellow Spurs fans on the other side of town, live with on a daily basis. Now compound that with a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. That sinking feeling I got when I opened my nearly empty fridge is nothing compared to the stark reality of some of our fellow San Antonians.
Fast forward a few weeks. We all saw the pictures that made national news in early April, right? The lines of cars parked at a local distribution by the San Antonio Food Bank. San Antonio’s poverty may be easy to overlook given we live in one of the most economically segregated cities in the country but COVID-19 is forcing us all to think again about our city’s status at the 7th largest city in the country.
During this pandemic crisis many nonprofit organizations, schools, churches, and individuals have stepped up to address the immediate and basic food insecurity needs of so many in this city. We know about the San Antonio Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and local school districts’ combined efforts providing literally thousands of pounds of food to people of all ages day after day, but one group you may not be as familiar with is Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio.
This is my shout out to them.
Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio (SP4KSA) provides weekend food supplements to serve the needs of chronically hungry children, addressing the relationship between food insecurity and learning. According to the Snack Pak 4 Kids website, in Bexar County alone, over 120,000 children are considered to be food insecure. Grace Northridge Church started SP4KSA in 2012 and began carrying out its mission by serving children at Lamar Elementary in San Antonio Independent School District. They currently serve 20 schools in four school districts. SP4KSA estimated it would serve over 2,500 students during the current school year, receiving weekend food supplements in their backpacks each Friday. But then COVID-19 happened.
For this completely volunteer-led and volunteer-run organization, operations didn’t stop just because schools closed their doors and students were now learning from home. The opposite happened––operations expanded as the needs drastically and quickly became greater, including the needs for volunteers to deliver Snack Paks. According to recent local news coverage, Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio is now serving 6,000 children a week. And as you can imagine, they could use some help, especially in the form of monetary donations. As people continue to lose their jobs, more kids are going to need food. Due to social distancing, volunteering opportunities are currently limited in some ways but under normal circumstances, they are always happy to have groups of volunteers, in particular, to help with packing the snack pak bags.
Here are the quickest links to find out how you can support Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio and help provide weekend food security for students all around our city:
Learn more about their operations on their Facebook page.
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And thank you, Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio, for all that you do to keep San Antonio children fed over the weekends!