San Antonio Food Bank (SAFB) Community Kitchen Chef de Cusine Ronaldo Pautin (right) and student chef Rhachel Hernandez (left work at the beginning of the packaging line to create meals, while Chef Mario Salazar (second from left) describes to student chef Gustavo Ramirez (center) how he wants the thermal coolers to be setup and how they will be staged for pickup for Kids Cafes in San Antonio, TX., on Monday, October 31, 2011. Mr. Ramirez explained that the Kids CafÃ© is an afterschool program and that, for some of the children, it would be their last meal of the day. Other meals prepared by the Community Kitchen include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program for children during summer months, and the year-round Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP).
The Community Kitchen trains the unemployed, feeds the hungry, and generates public support and revenue through social enterprise. They began creating meals in 2003, with volunteers and the Community Kitchen students looking to further themselves in a promising culinary career. Over 16-week course individuals receive basic culinary training, similar to portions of an accredited culinary institution, to develop their culinary job skills. The program is lead by Chef Rudy Garza and his team of instructor chefs, present training and work demands that to build useful job skills. The students focus their new talents on the preparation of meals for area shelters, kids cafes, summer feeding sites (www.summerfood.usda.gov/), and catering services. San Antonio Food Bank is a non-profit organization that serves as a clearinghouse by receiving and storing truckloads of donated food, produce, and other grocery. SAFB distribute these items to over 500 service agencies that help people in need.
âWe couldnât do what we do without our partnership with USDAââ said President and CEO Eric Cooper. He continues, âWe are privileged in partnering (with the USDA) to feeding kids, through the summer, with the Summer Food Service Program, and throughout the year, with the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP). Then in our approach to feeding seniors, we partner with USDA in the Commodities Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and the Senior Farmerâs Market (Nutrition) Program working to bring all our (needy) parties together with our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach. You know, once families have access to food we believe it is important to educate them. Through the support of the SNAP-Education Program we are able to educate them during their time of need. With this comprehensive approach we are really able to get the right food, the right amount, at the right time, to needy families throughout our community â which allows us to feed the fifty-eight thousand we do, each week.â
SAFB serves 16 counties in Southwest Texas and states, âNearly one out of every four children and one out of every five adults in Southwest Texas live in poverty and has difficulty meeting basic nutritional needs.â According to SAFB, sixty-five percent of the people requesting emergency food have children. âAdditionally, the senior citizens and those living on a fixed income generally have limited funds for a consistent grocery budget.â
San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the nation with surrounding farms and ranches near its rivers and water supplies. When available they provide fresh surplus produce. Other commodities come from the food industry and manufacturers. The major food brand companies that have surplus commodities donate it to SAFB.
The United States Department of Agriculture donates commodities through programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), while Texas farmers supply fresh produce to their Fresh Produce Program.
Public donations come in the form of money, food, volunteer time, and advocacy. Their fleet of trucks to pickup and deliver food as needed. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
May 6, 2014