The Bandera Courier
Bandera Courier
Thursday December 14, 2017
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Helping Hand ISO ‘elves’ to stock food pantry

Judith Pannebaker

Staff with the San Antonio Food Bank delivers groceries to the food pantry at Bandera’s Helping Hand Crisis Center, 1116 12th St., the first Thursday of every month with next month’s date set for Dec. 7.
At that time, extra volunteers are needed to unload the food and stock the shelves at Helping Hand, according to executive director Jesse Parks.
“We’re especially grateful for the assistance the food bank offers at this time of the year because it’s important that every underprivileged family living in Bandera County has a very Merry Christmas,” Parks said. She’s also grateful for the many volunteers who routinely donate time to the nonprofit.
“The first Thursday of every month we particularly appreciate any additional help, which enables us to unload the food donations and restock our shelves as efficiently as possible,” Parks added.
Throughout its 16-county service, the SA Food Bank, which is located at 5200 Enrique M. Barrera Pkwy., partners with a network of 500 agencies in Southwest Texas. The food bank distributes thousands of pounds of food monthly through mobile pantries, food fairs and supplemental food distribution programs, offering both perishable and non-perishable food items to pas on to qualifying families and individuals.
For the first time, during the 2016 budget workshops, Mario Blatto Jr. of the SA Food Bank asked Bandera County Commissioners to include an allocation for the food bank in its budget. At that time, the SA Food Bank was working with five local organizations to alleviate hunger in the county, where, Blatto said, “More than 16 percent of the population is food insecure.” The term “food insecure” is defined as county residents who are either hungry or “don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Blatto said.
Funding in the amount of a block grant, he added, “. . . would allow for distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and protein all over the county.”
In past years, the food bank has distributed more than 823,000 pounds of food that had a wholesale value of $1.4 million to partners throughout the county, including Helping Hand.
In support of Blatto’s request, Parks lauded the efforts of the SA Food Bank, explaining that each month, Helping Hand distributes more and more food. “At the end of the month, our cupboards are quite literally bare,” she said.
“We welcome all volunteers on the food truck unloading day,” Parks said. “And we never ask our volunteers to help out more than they are comfortable doing. We’re very easy to work with.”
For more information on volunteering on Thursday, Dec. 7, call Parks at 830-796-8300.