SAN ANTONIO — As the San Antonio and Hill Country areas continue to recover from the devastating winter storm and associated power crisis, businesses and organizations are scrambling to return to normalcy and literally take stock of their reaction to the crisis.
In this episode of Commerce Street, KENS 5 speaks with two organizations that help families get the formula, food and supplies they need to care for children. Between unsteady supply chains, dangerous roads and people stocking up for survival, a lot of grocery stores ended up with empty shelves.
Stores like H-E-B worked around the clock to restock during the winter storm, giving different hours daily so they could serve customers while staying safe.
"We couldn't be more proud to call ourselves safety partners. And we had folks who work in our corporate locations volunteering in stores all week, all weekend long, bagging groceries, restocking shelves right alongside our store partners.," Julie Bedingfield of H-E-B said. "We've seen great appreciation from our store partners to our truck drivers as they come to stores. It's like Christmas morning when a truck arrives at a store. So there's just a great sense of camaraderie and community throughout H-E-B right now. And we all couldn't be more proud to call ourselves partners."
The grocery store's work is not over yet. They are working to help support food banks and other community needs.
"As we move into recovery mode, we are working closely with Feeding Texas. Over the weekend, we've gotten about 23 trailer loads of products, including water and food, to the communities that have obviously been impacted the most. And so that work will continue. We want to make sure that we're taking care of Texans as we all get back on our feet," Bedingfield said.
But, there have been some items that have been hard to find everywhere. Norma Sifuentes, RD, LD Public Health Administrator with WIC (Women, Infants and Children) said her clients were hit particularly hard during the winter storm.
“Pretty much any grocery store you went to was short not only on food but also on formula. So, that was something scary moms had to respond to this week, and also moms had house damage and their WIC cards were lost or destroyed,” Sifuentes said.
She said one of the things the storm highlighted was the importance of WIC-only stores around town. Those are free-standing retail stores that sell products that qualify under the WIC food program. Sifuentes said they were life-changing for both WIC parents and non-WIC parents.
"I think our one constant through it all has been our WIC-only stores. And so, they have guaranteed us that they're fully stocked and we haven't had any mom come back and say, 'no, that store you sent me to didn't have it,'" Sifuentes said.
The Texas Diaper Bank also found itself facing need from both their usual clients and many more families facing a diaper and wipe shortage at grocery stores.
“Even the aftereffects, it's been huge here. This is a crisis we’re seeing- it’s unfortunate for our families and even ourselves, we had a hard time coming out on our last distribution- we were able to help 1,300 adults and 3,000 children," Ashley Hernandez of the Texas Diaper Bank said. "That was how we were able to respond, and we’re still responding.”
As for the short run on diapers, some sizes are still tough to come by. if you have any, especially the larger sizes of 5 or 6, you can donate to the Texas Diaper Bank.
For formula and other food needs for parents of young children, WIC says it's WIC-only stores are fully stocked. And if you are having a tough time making ends meet, visit WIC, and if you qualify, you can get your benefits card the same day.
“We are here to welcome you guys," Sifuentes said. "It's okay to get a little help here or there- and it’s a good supplement. So, you let us purchase a few of those basics and use the rest for other stuff we don’t cover.”
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