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.
The start of the Food Bank was in 1989 when it was acknowledged that the state and federal governments were not providing all of the necessary help needed in the Laredo and that millions of pounds of edible foods, and which could be used to feed the hungry, were being thrown into the landfill every year. In December 1989 the doors to the Laredo Webb County Food Bank first opened with one mission in mind: to help end hunger here at home.
The "brain child" of three civic leaders: Odie Arambula, Erasmo Villareal and Galo Garcia, the food bank began operations in one room of the old Loros Supermarket, today the 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, along with the STFB board members, used to assist with the executive duties.
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.
In January of 2019, the South Texas Food Bank relocated to a 93,000 square foot space 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.
On March 2007, the food bank held its first Empty Bowls fundraiser event at the Laredo Energy Arena. The event has become a staple fundraiser event for the South Texas Food Bank. In 2014 the food bank celebrated its 25th anniversary with a series of events that included a city-wide food drive.
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 January 2019, The South Texas Food Bank relocated to their new and current location at 2121 Jefferson St. 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.
Our Mission Statement and Commitment to South Texas is:
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.