Texas Border Business
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. announced that it is donating $1,600,000 in emergency funding to bolster food security efforts by the seven food banks serving its 74-county service area across Texas. The funding is a response to the increased demand seen by local food banks because of the reduction in SNAP benefits, ongoing food supply issues, and inflation.
13% of Texas households—1 in 8 Texans—experience food insecurity. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers food assistance to low-income individuals and in Texas, 79% of SNAP participants are families with children and more than 27% are families with elderly or disabled members. In March, due to the end of pandemic related relief, 3.7 million Texans saw a reduction in SNAP benefits, leading to every single SNAP recipient or household seeing their Lone Star card reduced by at least $95 each month. The average household saw a reduction of $212.
“Methodist Healthcare Ministries understands that health is more than what happens in a doctor’s office, but includes the actions necessary to ensure people have access to daily necessities they need to reach their fullest potential for health and life,” said Jaime Wesolowski, President & CEO of Methodist Healthcare Ministries. “Our health equity commitment guides us to partner with families on their journey to become more food secure; and to improve access to healthy and affordable foods through identifying, investing in, and supporting approaches that improve food security in neighborhoods and communities.”
The seven food banks receiving funds serve counties with the highest rates of unemployment as of September 2020. They include: Starr County (18.5% unemployment), Zavala County (17%), Maverick County (16.5%), Jim Wells County (14.7%) and Duval County (14.3%). These counties are home to a large number of families that are food insecure, making the additional support very timely. The funding is unrestricted, allowing each food bank to use in addressing their most urgent needs, including food costs, equipment and refrigeration.
Below is a summary of the funding allocations:
|Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)||$300,000|
|Coastal Bend Food Bank (Corpus Christi)||$150,000|
|Concho Valley Regional Food Bank (San Angelo)||$100,000|
|Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria)||$150,000|
|Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley||$300,000|
|San Antonio Food Bank||$300,000|
|South Texas Food Bank (Laredo)||$300,000|
“Thank you, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, for hearing the call and responding! Truly a testament of serving humanity to honor God,” said Eric Cooper, President & CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank. “The San Antonio Food Bank is proud to partner with MHM on a regional strategy to address food insecurity. Delivering equitable access to nutritious foods not only addresses food insecurity but improves health outcomes for chronic diseases in South Texas. Together we are fighting hunger and feeding hope!”
This funding is a part of the $149.9 million community investment MHM announced in June 2023. Six of the food banks receiving funds are existing MHM Funded Partners, with the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent being the newest recipient.
The action follows the organizations’ new strategic plan that includes a commitment to systemic change by supporting approaches and initiatives that disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty. These approaches may include convening cross-sector partnerships, investing in community infrastructure, impacting public policy and state legislative efforts, creating opportunities, eliminating barriers, and/or addressing the long-term needs of individuals, families, and communities.
Apart from this funding, MHM’s efforts to advance food security include its advocacy work in Austin. This past legislative session, the MHM Policy & Advocacy team, in partnership with the 60 organizations that make up the Texas Food Policy Network, were successful in advocating and securing new funding for Texas residents experiencing food insecurity. Key wins the group achieved through legislation and budget appropriations include 1) Updating the SNAP Vehicle Asset Test, 2) Increasing funding for available produce; and 3) Eliminating key taxes and fees for Food Banks. These efforts will increase food distribution and remove unnecessary barriers for many Texas households struggling to feed their families.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. is a private, faith-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating access to health care for the uninsured through direct services, community partnerships and strategic grant-making in 74 counties across South Texas. Guided by its mission of “Serving Humanity to Honor God,” Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ vision is to be the leader for improving wellness of the least served. The mission also includes Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ one-half ownership of the Methodist Healthcare System, the largest healthcare system in South Texas, which creates a unique avenue to ensure that it continues to be a benefit to the community by providing quality care to all and charitable care when needed. For more information, visit www.mhm.org.