Texas grocer H-E-B plans to donate $1 million to support local food banks and work with supplier partners to provide community aid in the wake of Winter Storm Uri.
H-E-B said Wednesday that its donation will support 18 food banks across the state. The San Antonio-based supermarket chain works directly with food banks affiliated with Feeding Texas, part of the Feeding America national hunger-relief organization. So far, H-E-B has delivered 23 truckloads of food and almost $100,000 of its Meal Simple meals to food banks.
With residents across Texas grappling with shortages of food, water and other supplies, H-E-B is teaming up with various suppliers to help meet the need. The retailer said Zen Water and fellow grocer Publix Super Markets provided 10 truckloads of water that was distributed to Texas food banks this week. Another supplier partner, Proud Source Water, also committed a trailer load of water, bringing the total to 21 trailer loads. These water donations will total more than 725,000 bottles of water.
Winter Storm Uri brought snow, ice and historically unheard-of cold to Texas during the Valentine’s and President’s Day weekend, with temperatures plummeting into the single digits and wind chills falling below zero. The frigid weather crashed the state’s power grid and forced rolling blackouts, leaving millions of Texans without electrical power for days. The cataclysmic temperature change also froze water pipes, cutting off much of the water supply and creating safety issues triggered boil-water orders around the state.
The disaster paralyzed businesses and daily life in Texas, leading people to search for places to keep warm and locate scant supplies of food, bottled water and fuel. H-E-B was forced to temporarily close a number of stores and curtail hours of operation at many locations. While power has been restored to most Texas homes and businesses, water safety and damage issues remain, and the state faces billions in insured losses. President Joe Biden issued a major disaster declaration for Texas on Feb. 19, releasing federal emergency funding for hard-hit areas of the state.
“As we emerge from the bitter cold, these donations come at a critical time to help our fellow Texans get back on their feet,” Winell Herron, group vice president of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs for H-E-B, said in a statement. “H-E-B is here for Texas, and we will do everything we can to support those in need across our great state.”
As part of its relief effort, H-E-B also plans to initiate a customer donation campaign online and in all its stores statewide. Shoppers can contribute by making monetary donations of $1, $3 or $5 at checkout in stores and by visiting heb.com/donate. All donated funds will go to support food banks affiliated with Feeding Texas.
H-E-B added that in 2020, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, its Hunger Relief Program donated 41 million pounds of food to food banks, up 35% from 201. Other H-E-B donations in 2020 included $2 million to Texas food banks at the onset of the pandemic, another $2 million to food banks through its Summer of Giving initiative, 600 additional truckloads of food to Texas food banks, more than 80,000 Meal Simple meals to hospitals, and over 340,000 holiday meals as part of its annual Feast of Sharing.