In an effort to aid community members needing assistance with eligibility requirements and applications for federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a representative from the San Antonio Food Bank will be on-hand in Uvalde throughout the summer.
According to Nancy Sanchez, client services manager for the SA Food Bank, the food bank will be represented at the Middle Rio Grande Workforce Center every Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Uvalde County is one of 16 counties in the San Antonio Food Bank’s service area, allowing Uvalde residents access to their services and a multitude of programs.
“All of the levels of service provided at the main office of the San Antonio Food Bank is also provided to the service counties,” said Eric Cooper, chief executive officer of the San Antonio Food Bank.
Cooper explained that individuals can always access the call center for immediate assistance.
Cooper also said that their in-person outreach in Uvalde has not been as prevalent in the last three years due to the demand of calls coming to the call center.
Cooper said the SA Food Bank is committed to the needs of the community.
“What we have determined by looking at aggregate data, is that there is a need. There is percentage of the population that is not accessing the benefits that they qualify for,” Cooper said. “And we are trying to determine what the barriers are to accessing the programs.”
Generally speaking, Cooper said that of the eligible population, approximately 50-60 percent are utilizing the programs.
“We are trying to fill the gap – as to why the other 40 percent is not applying for benefits,” Cooper said.
According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated number of SNAP recipients in Uvalde County has declined by 23.14 percent from 2010-2016.
“For some, there are barriers to applying,” Cooper said.
Among the barriers Cooper identified were literacy, language, fear of incorrect applications, or lack of understanding of the process.
“We are the third party that can help people understand the application,” he said.
The agency will also be able to help individuals with any re-certification processes as well.
Cooper added that the food bank offers three tiers of programs; “food for today,” “food for tomorrow,” “and food for a lifetime.”
The program assistance function falls under the “food for tomorrow” umbrella, with the concept being to help individuals begin to become sustainable.
Services under the category “food for a lifetime” include job training and resume writing. Cooper added that due to logistics, these services are typically offered at the main branch.
The San Antonio Food Bank will also be doing a food distribution for qualifying residents once a month throughout the summer.
According to Genevieve Noriega, San Antonio Food Bank director of partners services, to qualify for food assistance a resident must meet certain criteria such as being enrolled in the SNAP program or being enrolled in Supplemental Security Income.
Food distributions will be held at 519 S. High St. on June 21, July 19, and Aug. 16 at 10 a.m.
Anyone needing to utilize these services should contact the Middle Rio Grande Workforce Center at 830-278-4491.
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