Food pantry struggles to keep shelves stocked

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Pam Frias, coordinator of student success, picks up a food shipment of four pallets Feb. 8 at the San Antonio Food Bank. Supplies are picked up every Friday and stocked at The Store. The Store is this college’s food pantry in the student advocacy center. They are open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. the first Saturday of the month. Students, faculty and staff must first visit the center to enroll into the program. Jackie Muralles

Volunteers and donations welcome.

By Jackie Muralles

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

For student success Coordinator Pam Frias, stocking The Store in the student advocacy center is always a battle between what the college community needs and what is available.

The store is the college’s food pantry available to students, faculty and staff who qualify for assistance.

Frias not only oversees the ordering of the food for the store, she also goes to the San Antonio Food Bank to collect it every Friday.

The store was forced to change the food bank collection to Fridays because of the limited access from the southwest side of campus near Scobee Education Center.

The number of students walking the foot-paths during Monday-Thursday classes also risked too many hazards.

“It is simply not safe to drive vehicles across campus during peak class times,” Director Lisa Black said Feb. 19.

During Frias’s visit Feb. 8 she was able to go shopping for more supplies.

Entering the food bank warehouse through the side pedestrian door, the first thing visitors see is a refrigeration room.

There are pallets laid about the floor in two separate areas.

There are mainly fruits and vegetables in the first area, baby items and bread in the second.

The pallets on the ground have been sifted through and have items laying about in all directions.

This is where Frias waded through loaves of bread and fruits and vegetables to find items most needed for the store.

By the end of the day the center had four pallets of ordered products as well as a pallet of extra items stuffed into every nook of the three pickups used to transport the order.

Two of the pickups belong to volunteers, and the third belongs to the college.

The order was $500.

With the additional items, the total spent was below $575.

This comes from a budget provided by the student activity fee of $3 per credit hour that students pay each semester.

The Student Activity Fee Committee created a yearly budget of $20,000 for the store to purchase food monthly.

Biology sophomore Allison Disher, student advocacy center work study, stocks shelves at The Store after recieving a shipment of four pallets Feb. 8 from the San Antonio Food Bank. The store is this college’s food pantry located on the first floor of the advocacy center. Jackie Muralles

The budget is replenished at the beginning of each academic calendar year.

Last year there were a total of 2,333 visits to the store, with 1,468 of those visits occurring during the fall, when the advocacy center received its own building.

While the food bank and H-E-B are a continuous help to the center, donations are always welcome.

The store does accept monetary donations but prefers food or hygiene products so that they may be immediately stocked.

Those who would like to donate items can donate at the advocacy center any time the center is open.

The center is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. the first Saturday of every month.

If assistance is needed, individuals can call the advocacy center and staff or volunteers will help transport items from the campus parking lot to the advocacy center.

Students, faculty and staff also are encouraged to start donation boxes in classrooms to help stock the store.

To use the store, individuals must select this college as their home campus and meet the San Antonio Food Bank’s 2018 income guidelines.

According to these guidelines, for a one-person household, the annual income cap is at $22,459, $1,872 monthly or $432 weekly.

For students to see if they qualify, they must go to the student advocacy center lobby and fill out paperwork pertaining to their household income.

Once students qualify, they can visit the store twice a month and are allowed two bags of groceries per visit.

However, hygiene products are limited to once a month.

Those who want to volunteer at the store can contact Frias by email at pfias3@alamo.edu.

The food bank is located at 5200 Enrique M. Barrera Parkway.

To volunteer at the San Antonio Food Bank go to safoodbank.org/register-to-volunteer/.

To learn more about the advocacy center you can visit them on the web at http://www.alamo.edu/sac/about-sac/college-offfices/student-advocacy-center/ or call at 210-486-1111.

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