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COVER: Local H-E-B grocery stores are collecting food donations through Sunday to give to the Hays County Food Bank for the national “Souper Bowl of Caring.” PHOTO by MADISON TOWNSEND/THE UNIVERSITY STAR

by NESTER COMANCHO

The Hays County Food Bank is expecting to receive over 2,000 cans of food this February thanks to local H-E-B stores.

The Texas grocery chain, as well as Kroger and Randalls, have joined the nationwide “Souper Bowl of Caring” movement in efforts to help “tackle hunger” and give back to the local community.

“Our store takes it very seriously and makes it fun for us participating in it,” said Maria Cavazos, an H-E-B employee.

The annual food drive began Jan. 18 and will last until Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 7.

At the register, customers may purchase bags of food that the store will give to the food bank or decide to donate $1, $3 or $5.

The store donates prepared bags containing non-perishable food items, including canned tuna, brown rice, green beans, peanut butter and kettle corn.

“During our shifts we have this thing called ‘power hour,’” Cavazos said. “We try to get at least ten donations each (in two hours). In my opinion it makes asking for donations more fun because it’s sort of a competition with all of my coworkers.”

Cashiers who exceed the goal of 10 donations receive prizes from management, like a gift card or free food.

Alejandra Espinoza, a San Marcos resident of five years, said it’s good for H-E-B management to stress to employees the importance of asking customers for donations.

“Most of us, including myself, don’t even know where the food bank is located here in San Marcos,” Espinoza said. “Even if I did, if it’s not on my daily route—I wouldn’t be able to donate.”

H-E-B’s “Souper Bowl of Caring” makes it convenient for customers to donate to the food bank while buying groceries, Espinoza said.

All the donations collected at the local H-E-B stores are given to the food bank and distributed to families, individuals and over 40 partnered agencies in the county, said Mallory Raschke, communications coordinator for the food bank.

“I think it’s wonderful (H-E-B) donates the food to us and they have been for a while now,” Raschke said. “We pick up the donated food every day from them Sunday through Saturday so our clients can receive it when needed.”

This isn’t the busiest time of the year for the bank, Raschke said. The food bank receives the most donations during the months of October, November and December.

“I believe that one of the reasons why people tend to donate during those months of October through December is because it’s the holiday season,” Espinoza said. “We have to remember that not all of us are lucky and blessed enough to have a nice meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

ANNA HEROD reports for The University Star, the student newspaper of Texas State University, where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the University Star and the San Marcos Mercury.

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