Hungry in the Valley: For many families, getting enough to eat
- _Click here: Life: Hungry in the Valley: For many families, getting enough
to eat is daily struggle | food, pantry, bank - The _
Hungry in the Valley: For many families, getting enough to eat is daily
_Travis M. Whitehead_ (mailto:travis@...)
July 6, 2007 - 3:16PM
PHARR — Liborio Linan waited outside the St. George’s Orthodox Church food
pantry one recent morning to pick up some groceries to feed himself, his
wife, and 16-year-old daughter.
“I don’t work fulltime, I work only 15 -20 hours a week,” said Linan, 58,
whose other three children are grown.
Linan is just one of thousands of people fed each month through the Rio
Grande Valley Food Bank, which distributes food to about 140 food pantries in the
Libby Salinas, agency relations manager for the food bank, said a study
conducted last year showed that half of the Valley’s children go to bed hungry.
“It’s really food insecurity, or having to choose between paying for their
rent, or they’re just not getting enough to eat,” she said. “Or they are
getting something to eat but it’s not enough to fill them up. You very possibly
could be getting something to eat, but it’s just not enough to fill them up.”
Salinas said people sometimes have to decide between paying for food, rent
or utilities. The food bank serves 200 agencies throughout the Valley with
food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and kid’s cafes (a safe haven where
children can have a hot meal). The food bank also serves some foster care
agencies. Last year, local soup kitchens prepared more than one million meals;
records indicate 334,433 families were served through the Valley’s food pantries,
but some of those could have been served more than once.
Linan was just one in a crowd of people outside the St. George food pantry,
which opens twice a month at 704 W. Sam Houston.
“I heard from my neighbor about this place,” said Vanessa Ayala, 27, a
paraprofessional at a local middle school. She gets paid monthly, making it
sometimes difficult to feed her two children ages two and four. She also has house
payments and utilities.
What would she do if this food pantry weren’t open?
“Maybe find another job, if I could find someone to take care of the kids,”
she said. “Anything, I don’t care, as long as they feed my kids.”
The Rev. Antonio Perdomo said the St. George Orthodox Church pantry delivers
between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds of food a month to about 100 families. Many
of the families who come to the pantry, he said, are underemployed and need
the extra help.
“The income is too low here,” he said. “Generally speaking, because a lot
of people, it’s not that they come and they are unemployed, they just make a
little bit less. Not everybody, but the majority of the people I would say are
just underemployed in that sense. They might work long hours but they are
underemployed as far as making enough money.”
Yolanda Martinez doesn’t make enough money to feed herself, her daughter and
grandson, so the food pantry at Baptist Temple, 2001 Trenton Road, is a
great help to her.
“It’s very important, because we need the food,” said Martinez, 68.
Her daughter, Noemi Rodriguez, agreed.
“It gets you out of a bind, when you are running low on food,” said
Rodriguez, 42, as her two-year-old son lingered nearby.
“It’s an enormous help for low-income families,” she said.
Her mother, Martinez, liked the food she was getting.
“It’s very nice food,” she said. “I love when they give away chicken. It’s
so good. It’s young chicken. And the juices, especially the juices, and the
Martinez said she’s been coming to the food pantry for about two years. What
would she do without a food pantry?
“I would be struggling, sir,” she said. “I receive $38 in food stamps.”
Her daughter would have to find other ways to make ends meet.
“I would probably go and ask anybody, my sister, anyone I know, clean houses
or something to get by,” she said.
People often get into this situation because of broken marriages, illness,
immigration and other reasons.
“I guess it’s a sign of the times,” said Alicia Warner, communications
manager for the Food Bank.
“Marriages break up, the breadwinner leaves suddenly,” she said. “That’s
one of the most common ones.”
Warner remembers an especially touching story about a mother who came into
the food pantry on 10th Street.
“They hadn’t eaten for a day or so,” Warner said. “They went and got this
stuff from the food pantry and then the kids are like, ‘Mom, can we eat now?’
Right there in the parking lot.”
Travis Whitehead covers features and entertainment for The Monitor. You can
reach him at (956) 683-4452. For this and more local stories, visit
HOW TO HELP:
If you’d like to help, call Nadia Ochoa at the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank
at 682-8101, ext. 31, or Libby Salinas (also at the food bank) at ext. 28.
A FEW AREA FOOD PANTRIES:
• St. George’s Food Pantry - St. George's Orthodox Church
704 W. Sam Houston, Pharr
Open every other Wednesday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Call to find out which Wednesday they’ll be open, and to donate time or
• Baptist Temple
2001 Trenton Road, McAllen
Phone: (956) 686-5296
Opens the first and third Thursday of each month, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.
• Iglesia del Pueblo
7500 W. Expressway 83, Palmview
Opens the last Wednesday of the month, 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.
• First United Methodist Church food pantry
1101 Doherty, Mission
Opens first and third Thursday of the month, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
St. George's Orthodox Church
Rio Grande Valley of Tropical South Texas
************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL at
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]