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San Antonio's food insecurity continues this holiday season, but it has eased

San Antonio Food Bank President and CEO Eric Cooper.jpg
By Brian Kirkpatrick
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Food Bank President and CEO Eric Cooper thanked HEB for its large produce donation during a news conference on Wednesday at the food bank's far West Side complex.

Food insecurity continues in San Antonio and South Texas this holiday season, but it has eased some for its worst point during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help people who are food insecure as the holidays approach, H-E-B on Wednesday donated 4 million pounds of produce to the San Antonio Food Bank, which will be distributed to seniors, after school programs and to families in need in the 29 counties the food bank serves.

H-E-B has participated for years in the food bank's Harvest from the Heart program.

"Our procurement team works really closely with our growers and we basically just do all we can to solicit as much support in terms of financial support and then produce products," said Kyle Stevens, a group vice president for produce and bakery at the San Antonio-based grocery giant.

Food bank president and CEO Eric Cooper described the demands on the food bank in recent years.

"The food bank pre-pandemic fed about 60,000 people a week and at the peak went to 120. As the economy is strengthening, we're now down to 90,000 people a week," he said.

Cooper stressed that is still quite a lot of people to feed. San Antonio made national news during the peak of the pandemic when aerial shots were shown on television showing miles of vehicles streaming in and out of Trader's Village to pick up food at a drive-through set up by the food bank. Other massive drive-through events at the Alamodome were also needed during the peak of the pandemic.

During Wednesday's news conference to announce the produce donation by H-E-B, Cooper appeared before an elaborate display of fruits and vegetables that included a Christmas tree made of heads of broccoli and limes. It had a crown made of bell peppers, apples and oranges. A pineapple served as the tree topper. Radishes were used to appear as ornaments.

Christmas tree made of produce at San Antonio Food Bank.jpg
Brian Kirkpatrick
Texas Public Radio
Christmas tree made of produce served as the backdrop for a news conference to announce large produce donation by HEB

Cooper said it could use some volunteers this holiday season. To learn about volunteering and donating, visit safoodbank.org.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian