Guadalupe County Commissioners Court recently approved a donation to the San Antonio Food Bank to provide sustenance to families here struggling with food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic and possibly beyond.
And, a local elected official is doing what he thinks is right by matching the county’s donation. County Attorney David Willborn said helping put food on tables of less fortunate individuals and families is just part of being a good human being.
“It’s what I was taught to do and it’s what I’ve learned is the right thing,” Willborn said. “Take care of those less fortunate than us.”
On May 12, Commissioners Court unanimously agreed to a memorandum of understanding that the county would donate $5,000 to the San Antonio Food Bank. Willborn offered to match the county’s $5,000 donation.
The food bank distributes food and it partners with local agencies in a 16-county area that includes Guadalupe County. The San Antonio Food Bank has been involved in food distribution events in the county in the past and additional pop-up distribution events have provided food staples to the needy since the response to the COVID-19 pandemic reached the state of Texas and Guadalupe County.
“Tons of food were distributed,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Greg Seidenberger said. “This is a good time because people are really in need. Families are in need. We’re going to try to do another distribution.”
Before the COVID-19 crisis, the San Antonio Food Bank would see about 60,00 individuals per week, said Eric Cooper, the food bank’s executive director. During the crisis, the number has gone to about 120,000 per week, he said.
He and his staff have been trying to double the food supply, double the donations, get more equipment, more trucks and increase the amount of volume they can handle, Cooper said. That means asking for more.
“We’re depending on the community to support us,” he said. “If someone was giving $10,000, now we’re trying to hit them up for $20,000. We’re trying to meet the demand that’s upon us. It’s been staggering to me to see the number of families that have been impacted.”
Cooper estimates that for every dollar collected the food bank returns about $10 worth of food and grocery products. He said 100% of donations made in Guadalupe County will go to feeding Guadalupe County residents.
It all helps, because, Cooper said, of Guadalupe County’s roughly 167,000 estimated population, about 10.6% survive below the poverty level.
“There’s about 17,702 residents that live below the poverty line,” he said. “We tend to think of those people that are food insecure. It’s about 32,748 people in the county that are food insecure. They just live maybe a little above poverty or they live in poverty.”
It takes a lot of food to meet that need, Cooper said. He added that the food bank plans to hold about two local food distributions per month and thanked the county commissioners court and Willborn for supporting the efforts.
Willborn said his parents taught him from a young age to help people who are less fortunate than he. Helping provide food for the less fortunate helps him in his job because putting food on folks’ tables lessens the chances someone will go out and commit crime to do it themselves, the county attorney said.
So offering a portion of his salary to help the hungry in his own community seemed like a no-brainer, Willborn said. It’s his way of helping the community rise as one, he said.
“This community is taking care of me and my family by letting me be your lead prosecutor, the very least I can do is to take care of them back,” Willborn said. “For the cost of me to feed my family for a week, I can feed 15 families for a week. If I can’t give that back, there’s something wrong with me, and that’s the honest to God’s truth.”