Mary Flores didn’t realize just how much 1 ton of produce was until she arrived at River City Produce to see her donation being given to several local nonprofits and group homes on May 13. It’s enough to feed about 4,000 people.
Mary, mother of a son, Tommy, who has Down Syndrome, knows what it’s like to go to the grocery store and find that what she needs isn’t available. It’s what spurred her to make a donation of 2,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables to the Autism Treatment Center, Down Syndrome Association of South Texas, Morgan’s Wonderland and Reaching Maximum Independence.
“We were watching the news and saw the lines of people (at the San Antonio Food Bank) needing food, and we knew we needed to do something,” she said. “Then Cynthia Hamilton of the Autism Treatment Center contacted us and said group homes are hurting. They go to the stores and can’t find the foods they need. That’s how this all came about.”
Now children and adults of the four designated nonprofits will enjoy everything from potatoes and carrots, to bananas and apples, to tomatoes and blueberries. “It was interesting because they even asked for broccoli,” the benefactor said.
Brooke Kearney, chief mission officer for Morgan’s Wonderland, said they are incredibly thankful to Mary and the Flores family for their donation of fresh produce.
“We were able to pass on this kindness to fellow nonprofits in our community that serve individuals with disabilities,” she said. “Any Baby Can and Mission Road ministries were able to provide fresh produce to their clients and residents. Morgan's Wonderland is so grateful to be considered, and we look forward to working with the Flores Family to continue to serve our families in need.”
Mary is business partners with Tommy and her other son, Michael, of www.CookingWithMichael.com and jokes that she’s really the Chief Executive Taster. “I taste a lot of things,” she said with a chuckle.
She noted that many non-profits have seen a reduction in donations because of the economic strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Other organizations also have found it difficult to shop for groceries with limits on quantity. Mary also understands the challenges that families like hers, as well as the nonprofits they rely on, are facing during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Individuals with Down Syndrome and autism don’t understand the concept of shelter-in-place or adapt well to quarantine because their daily program and therapy is based on consistency and routine,” she said. “Also, a large majority rely on day programs and group homes for therapy and meals.”
So Mary, Tommy and Michael were happy to see leaders from the four organizations pack their vehicles with loads of fruits and veggies.