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Collaboration with local church helps feed San Antonio ISD families without transportation
cornerstone-foodWhen COVID-19 hit earlier this spring, San Antonio ISD teachers and staff reached out to students and families to see how the District could help. The list of needs was long, and one thing SAISD Social Worker Jaime Hudson noticed was a number of families who needed food but didn’t have transportation to a food distribution site. While SAISD provided 29 curbside meal sites and 70 bus stop meal sites, Hudson went the extra mile and found another option that ended up providing boxes of food to 125 families who couldn’t take advantage of existing resources.

Hudson began to search for resources outside of the District that could help the families in need. After doing some internet research, Hudson came across Cornerstone, a local church.

“When I reached out to them, I honestly didn’t expect them to say yes,” said Hudson. “But Jaime called me back that same day and said they could help.”

Jaime Rios, community relations director at Cornerstone, said he was happy that Hudson reached out, and the church already had something in place that would fit with the District’s needs. At the beginning of the pandemic, the church had been tasked by their lead pastor to love the city and help those in need. 

“We wanted to make things easier for families, and fill in the gaps that at that point hadn’t been brought to the light,” Rios said. “We had developed a partnership with Enterprise [Rent-a-Car] and we staffed those cars with pastors who were willing to deliver food to families across the city without transportation.”

Hudson and her fellow SAISD social workers, counselors and other staff worked tirelessly to connect with all families across the District. When they came across a family who needed food, but didn’t have transportation, they asked if they would like to be added to a list of families to receive a delivery of a box of fresh food. 

“Ms. Hudson worked directly with Elsa Cardenas and the Cornerstone community care support team weekly to ensure that all referrals were appropriately registered and clearly identified,” said M. Estella Garza, director of SAISD Family & Student Support Services. “Cornerstone’s resources of food boxes, hot meals and delivery of goods were certainly a godsend, literally, during the heart of the COVID crisis for SAISD.”

The internal referral system designed to track families was developed by Burbank feeder Social Worker Arriel Niblett. Niblett was sure to add an option if a family’s first language was Spanish so whoever was assigned to drop off their food would have the language skills to communicate with them. Internal SAISD employees were able to access the system and add names of families they contacted during the crisis.

The boxes of food contained a bag of fresh potatoes and carrots, fruit, avocadoes, rice, beans and 10 pounds of meat.   

“We partnered with HEB to get boxes for the deliveries,” said Rios. “We needed something sturdy to transport the food – each one had 20-30 pounds of food!”  

In addition to delivering 130 boxes to 125 SAISD families over a period of nine weeks, Cornerstone pastors also delivered more than 10,000 boxes to first responders, nurses, and other health care professionals. 

“It was amazing working with Jaime and SAISD,” said Rios. “It is amazing working with a district that has individuals, like Jaime, who are willing to go outside of the traditional thinking and finding people and organizations to connect with. And the amazing teachers who impact their students and treat them like their own children - they should all get a huge round of applause!”

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