SAN ANTONIO — Food insecurity is an issue over a million Texas households deal with. According to Feeding Texas, one in every seven Texans lacks access to healthy food.

Founder of Gardopia Gardens Stephen Lucke shares his passion with others. 

“It teaches communities about healthy lifestyles and environmental stewardship through gardening,” Stephen Lucke said.

Gardopia has come a long way since 2015 when this was just a vacant lot on the East side of San Antonio. The area is considered a food desert. Lucke hosts classes to educate the community about sustainability, and shows people how gardening can help them lead healthier lives, reducing obesity and malnutrition in San Antonio.

“There’s a lot of injustices in our community,” Lucke said. “Growing a garden and urban farm is a great way to get started. One, to provide for yourself and maybe for others as well.”

This was a solo mission for Lucke until the Community First Health Plans team showed up with a green box that will serve as a 24-hour food pantry right outside the garden.

“We hope to have four additional pantries by the end of this month,” Theresa Scepanski, CEO of Community First Health Plans said. “But our overall goal for 2021 is to have a total of 20 pantries.”

The team stocked the pantry with non-perishable items, and eventually it’ll add veggies from the garden. Scepanski says they are partnering with organizations in low income areas who need a pantry and can help sustain it.

“It’s available to everyone,” Scepanski said. “Whether you’re in need of items or want to stock the pantry.”

Lucke thinks this resource will help those waiting for the bus to get to work or walking to school. Building a more equitable community.

“What we’ve seen with this little free library is sort of build it and they will come,” Lucke said. "People will fill this with books. So I’m expecting the same thing is going to happen. People are going to fill this with food.”