Mobile Food Pantry Delivers Nutrition, and Peace of Mind
Once a month, just outside the campus of KIPP: Un Mundo Academy after all the students have been picked up, a line of cars loops around the parking lot. These parents are not waiting to meet their child’s teacher, nor are they waiting to drop their child off at soccer practice. They are waiting for something much more basic: food. With every car that is packed with food, another joins the line; almost 120 vehicles move continuously around the lot, windows down to relieve the heat. For more than an hour the cars continue to move slowly towards perhaps their only source of healthy food for the month. Many families will receive their food and then take their children to football practice or dance. Yet the long wait for produce and food basics is worth the time in order to sustain their children during these activities and for the rest of the month. The dual-language elementary school encourages its needy families to take advantage of the Mobile Food Pantry, a Food Bank distribution truck that hands out boxes of sustenance to those that come through the line. This program is funded by a Health and Fitness grant through SA2020 as part of an effort to address health risk factors caused by poor nutrition. This issue can have a broad effect on other areas, such as educational attainment and economic competitiveness in underserved communities. Each mobile pantry can provide for about 200 families and is filled with a variety of produce and other frozen and refrigerated foods for a family in need. Last year, the Mobile Food Pantry distributed over 5.1 million pounds of food to over 58,000 individuals. The Food Bank partners with KIPP through the Mobile Food Pantry as well as in a number of other ways, including providing food for students during the school day. At the KIPP: Un Mundo distribution site, about 120 families come through at each monthly delivery, the majority of which are KIPP parents and students. Chloe, age 27, is one of those parents, waiting for food for almost an hour with her six-year old daughter in the back seat. She has been coming to the KIPP mobile food pantry almost every month for a year after she was notified of her eligibility by the school. Her youngest daughter, only 2 years old, waits at her mother’s home, Chloe’s current place of residence. Chloe’s husband returned from deployment 5 months ago, and although they hope to someday to afford a home of their own, the last 8 years of his service have been financially difficult for Chloe and her family. Chloe and her daughters moved in with her mother in San Antonio a year ago when her husband was deployed. This has helped ease some financial burden, but she says that it has been difficult because her mother “felt she had to provide for everyone when he was deployed.” Now that Chloe’s husband is retired from the military, he has a job roofing, the couple’s only source of income. However, it can be especially difficult to budget money when the checks he receives are only every few weeks and for inconsistent amounts. Chloe is a stay-at-home mom who recently completed school to be a dental assistant, and is now working on the last steps of her qualifications. She is trying to complete the process so that she can work soon, especially since much of the money used to pay for school has come from her savings. With these costs on top of her husband’s sporadic income, providing adequate, nutritious food to her children can be difficult. Some of the financial burden of feeding her family is relieved by the food she receives from the Food Bank. She stressed how important the healthy food from the Food Bank was to her family, saying that without the distribution they would have to make additional financial cuts to find ways to afford such foods. She expressed appreciation for how the “really healthy food helps give kids healthier options.” Nutrition is so important for children, especially those at critical ages – like her youngest daughter, only 2 years old. Good health and eating habits begin at any early age, and the Food Bank is enabling Chloe to teach her children what it means to eat right. “The Food Bank just gives so much,” Chloe said, which is especially helpful to her family since she supports her mother with the food boxes as well. Older men and women also need strong nutrition through in their food, since there are a number of vitamins that help prevent disease and ease aging that can be obtained with healthier food. As someone who is working to a better future for her family, Chloe appreciates the help of the Food Bank and KIPP during this transitional and difficult time. The San Antonio Food Bank continues to help families throughout the summer. If you would like to help us, please contact (210) 337-3663. You can also visit us at http://www.safoodbank.org.