SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – What would have been the 34th annual Taste of Sweetwater fundraiser was cancelled Friday morning which was the deadline for sign up. Sweetwater’s Senor Nutrition Activities Program (SNAP) receiving only seven applications from local restaurants when the event event typically receives a minimum of 25.

“I was really excited and it was so crushing when I had to make the decision to just go ahead and cancel it,” said SNAP Director Tonya Challis.

Challis said this would have been the first time they held the event since 2019. and pointed to Covid-19 restrictions as the reason for the hiatus. Even though the restrictions have been lifted, Challis shared that most restaurants are unable to participate due to their low employee count.

“The restaurants just can’t do it and I understand they can’t commit. They don’t have the staff to open up the inside and run the drive thru and do everything else that needs to be done,” Challis explained.

Casa Morales has been a long time participant and owner Silvia Morales was ready for a grand return to form. She showed up to the SNAP office to apply for a table as soon as she could. Morales said she is heartbroken that the event was called off.

“It makes me sad because I think that we can all get together as a community and make it happen… It’s for the seniors and we’re all gonna be seniors one day,” said Morales.

Though this years event proved unsuccessful, Challis said they will be attempting a 34th Taste of Sweetwater next year. Looking forward, she said, to a more normal fundraising year.

“That’s what we’re working towards anyhow. Get back to normal. I don’t like this new normal business,” Challis expressed.

Challis shared that pre-pandemic, SNAP was taking in around $50,000 a year in combined fundraising efforts. Although since 2019, the number has been below half that.