SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Meals on Wheels San Antonio has been providing for thousands of local senior citizens for more than 40 years, and the organization will soon be able to more than double their outreach with a brand new facility on the northeast side of town near Nacogdoches Road and Loop 410.
“I couldn’t have a bigger smile on my face today,” Meals on Wheels San Antonio CEO Vinsen Faris said. “This is awesome. This is absolutely transformational for this organization and we’ve been here since the 70’s.”
Meals on Wheels San Antonio will be moving from a 14,000 sq. ft building on a one-acre plot of land off of Babcock Road to 6-acres of open space with plans for a 44,000 sq. ft facility and room for more.
The new facility will feature a massive kitchen facility sponsored by H-E-B, Meals on Wheel’s program support and the Edward Masoro Grace Place Alzheimer’s Activity Center. On the new property, there will also be community spaces including a park and walking trail. Meals on Wheels San Antonio has raised more than $8 million for the project so far.
“Not only will we be able to double our impact over the next 10 years, but this facility for the next 30 years will be filling that gap that we need, filling that void that we need, for our seniors to provide food, companionship and some dignity,” said Claudia Zapata-Elliott, registered dietitian and co-chair on the capital campaign committee to raise funds for the project. “My mother is an Alzheimer’s victim and she lives in Laredo, but I would have loved to have had a place for her like Grace Place, to give a break to the caregivers, to give a break to my dad and be able to know she is somewhere safe.”
Restaurateur Johnny Hernandez, owner of Grupo La Gloria, became closer with the organization at the start of the global pandemic last year and served as the co-chair on the capital campaign committee to work on making the new facility a reality.
Hernandez helped battle the influx of need during the pandemic by using the commissary kitchens in his restaurants to prepare several thousand fresh meals per day.
“It allowed me to keep 25 employees working every day that would not have had work,” Hernandez said. “It was a great partnership that came together early in the pandemic and now the work will continue.”
Faris said the new facility will be capable of preparing more than 30,000 hot meals per day. While the community does not need that volume of meals per day, Faris said that it will give the organization a chance to ramp up service in the face of natural disasters or other times of need.
“This is a dream come true,” Faris said. “The community deserves this facility. Meals on Wheels is owned by the community to serve the community. This is all about community.”