For more than 30 years, The South Texas Food Bank has aimed to be a bridge between those who are suffering from hunger and those who want to help through a transparent and efficient channel that guarantees that their donation will reach those who need it the most.
In the 1980's, the Federal government recognized that it was not able to provide the necessary assistance to food insecure people across the country through the existing food programs. In Laredo, millions of pounds of edible foods, that could be used to feed the hungry in our community, were being disposed of in the landfill every year. Following the national call for more food banks and after more than a year of planning, several civic leaders including Odie Arambula, Erasmo Villareal and Galo Garcia, with the help of H.E.B. Stores, officially opened the doors to the Laredo Webb County Food Bank in December 1989 with one mission in mind: to help end hunger here at home. The food bank began operations in a humble storage room behind the old Loros Supermarket, present day HEB Mercado Store.
In 1992, the growing operation moved to a 10,000-foot hangar at the old air base. In 1993, the food bank hired its first full-time executive director, Elton Gaskey. Prior to Gaskey, an H.E.B. employee, Hector Carrillo, along with the STFB board members, used to assist with the executive duties. Carrillo remained with the food bank until his passing in February 2021.
WEST SIDE STORY: The food bank's facility since 1997 till 2019. It is here where the operation grew and took form.
FOOD BANK VETERAN: Carrillo was one of the founding and most senior staff members of the South Texas Food Bank.
In 1997, the food bank acquired a more spacious location thanks to a grant from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Foundation, funding from HEB, and a grant from the Meadows Foundation. The 34,000 square foot warehouse, located at 1907 Freight Street, was nestled in west Laredo, in the corner of Freight and Riverside, one block south of Calton Road.
The Laredo Webb County Food Bank became the South Texas Food Bank in 2004, when the service area expanded to Zapata, Maverick, Val Verde, Dimmit and Kinney counties. However, the name was officially changed in 2008 when Starr County became the eight service county. The food bank currently serves eight counties in the south Texas region: Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Val Verde, Starr, Maverick, Dimmit and Kinney.
In 2014 the food bank celebrated its 25th anniversary with a series of events that included a city-wide food drive.
IN THE NEWS: Laredo Morning Times announces the grand opening of the Freight location facility.
"Groundbreaking": Although the food bank officially opened at the Freight location in 1997, renovations and the officiall "groundbreaking of the facility took place in 1996.
A NEW BEGINNING: On March 2019, the South Texas Food Bank hosted their grand opening to their new facility - one of the largest food bank facilities in the South Texas area.
In January of 2019, the South Texas Food Bank relocated to a 93,000 square foot facility located at 2121 Jefferson St. that includes two large ware-houses, an industrial kitchen and renovated office space in January of this year. The move came about as a result of rising demand for the food bank’s services. The food bank's current location is equipped with storage space, holding areas, a processing room, repacking facility, volunteer center, walk-in coolers and freezers for fresh produce and meats and a fully-functional, industrial grade kitchen. A grand opening was held on March 2019 to celebrate their new 93,000 sq. ft. facility as well as their upcoming 30th Anniversary - December 2019.
The South Texas Food Bank is a certified member of Feeding Texas and Feeding America's Food Bank Network - the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization - as well as Feeding Texas and the United Way of Laredo.
To alleviate hunger in the eight-county service area in the South Texas area by collecting and distributing food through partner agencies and programs while creating awareness and educating the community on the realities of hunger.
To fulfill this mission, the South Texas Food Bank will:
· Solicit adequate funding, services, and surplus/donated goods from donors;
· Judiciously warehouse and distribute goods through its Member Agencies;
· Create and administer programs that alleviate hunger in our service area;
· Promote public education on the nature of, and solutions to, the problems of domestic hunger;
· Develop strong partnerships with community leaders and organizations, both within and outside our service area;
· Foster relationships with Feeding America, Feeding Texas, Texas Department of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Agriculture and any other agency or individual with a similar mission.