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San Antonio Food Bank: Unprecedented Need for Food, Financial Donations During Government Shutdown 

  • Courtesy of the San Antonio Food Bank
When natural disaster strikes, communities usually lean on the nearest food bank — and a national network of food banks — for extra support and supplies.

However, a human-created disaster like the government shutdown means “every food bank is dealing with their own local disaster,” said Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank. “I’d estimate between 20,000 and 50,000 federal employees live in San Antonio, and we’ve probably served about 10 percent of that population.”

If the shutdown continues, SAFB officials expect that number will rise by mid-February, when recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, begin to run out of funds and more employees are unable to buy groceries without an income.

“Congress hasn't allocated additional funds for SNAP after March 1. We’re serving hundreds of people each day right now, but we could be in the thousands with SNAP clients,” Cooper said. “It could be catastrophic.”
  • Courtesy of the San Antonio Food Bank

SAFB currently manages two centers — one in New Braunfels, one in San Antonio — where locals can drop off donations or find perishable and non-perishable care packages available for pickup. Those needing food assistance can click here to connect.

Those interested in starting their own food drive or finding a donation drop-off center can click here. Individuals can also sign up to volunteer or make online financial donations. According to SAFB, every dollar donated creates seven meals for those in need.

“These are gaps that are far too big and wide for us to fill [alone], but we’re committed to making sure that no one goes hungry. It’s really [challenging the people of] San Antonio to step up and support us, in a way,” Cooper said. “Everything is helpful — if people are motivated to help federal employees and those in limbo. We need food, time, money and voices.”

There are no precedents for food bank operations during a long-term government shutdown.

With the current shutdown now at 32 days, relief groups may have to begin rationing food supplies “until [the supply] is gone,” Cooper said. “If it’s gone, we might find that the food bank is also overdrawn like the federal workers.”

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