CONTACT: Connie Swann, 210-207-6122
SAN ANTONIO (March 12, 2021) – The San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department was honored with the Administrative/Management Excellence Award for their community food distribution efforts in response to the pandemic. Presented at the Texas Recreation and Park Society’s (TRAPS) annual conference in Frisco, Texas, the award recognizes innovations in administration, management or supervisory actions that have responded to problems and have improved service to the public.
In the early months of the pandemic, thousands of people found themselves in food lines, many for the first time. “With school closures, sudden job losses, and a population at-risk with underlying health conditions, COVID-19 highlighted the disparities in food security within our community,” said Homer Garcia III, Director of Parks and Recreation. “Thanks to the swift support and action from City leadership, the Department was able to respond quickly during this time of crisis and provide meals to families in need,” noted Garcia.
Beginning in March 2020, Recreation team members partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank to provide meals and food to families. With community centers closed, these facilities were utilized as food distribution sites. Individual meals and snacks were provided for children and commodities were provided to families. Community centers would continue to serve as food distribution sites throughout the spring and later pivot to provide support to families in communities throughout San Antonio through the 2020 Summer Food Program.
The 2020 Summer Food Program took hundreds of staff hours to successfully provide food to San Antonio’s youngest community members. Staff in every Division at every level within the Parks and Recreation Department mobilized, attended training, and was deployed at Park facilities. With safety protocols implemented, families were able to drive-thru and pick up “Grab and Go” hot meals 5 days a week. The largest service locations provided 100-200 meals a day to children. In total, over 108,000 free lunches, snacks and suppers were served between June 1 and mid-August.
An innovative collaboration with the Urban Forestry Division, the Department provided 240 fruit trees to families during meal pick-ups, offering a sustainable source of fresh fruit and nutrition to families for years to come.
The Department continues providing free meals to children registered for seasonal camps and the Virtual Learning HUBS. Currently, Parks and Recreation is providing drive thru supper and snacks at 9 community centers and the San Antonio Natatorium. For more information on the program, please visit saparksandrec.com.