Central Texas nonprofits face major challenges, but continue to serve community during pandemic

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A little help can go a long way.

“It is what we are supposed to do,” said Anthony Jackson, president of We Can Now, a nonprofit that has been helping feed the homeless during the pandemic. “You see your brother or sister fall, you are supposed to help them up.”

Jackson knows the struggle of being homeless — he once lived in his car. You will now find him preparing meals and handing out clothes to those experiencing homelessness almost every weekend.

“People need assistance, so the more donations we get, the more people we can touch, the more people we can heal,” Jackson said.

His nonprofit is not the only one that relies on donations.

“The demand won’t just drop off,” said Derrick Chubbs, president of the Central Texas Food Bank. “The demand will continue so we still need sustainable donations.”

Chubbs says before the pandemic, there were about 400,000 individuals who are at risk of hunger in 21-county area his organization serves.

“Now those numbers are around 560,000,” Chubbs said.

With more people in need, that means more demand for food. Before the pandemic they were distributing about 4 million pounds of food per month.

“During the month of September we distributed seven million pounds,” Chubbs said. “Every food bank in the state, every food bank in the country, continues to have conversations with our retail partners, continue to have conversations with our state, local and federal officials about keeping those donations of food coming.”

Central Texas Food Bank has also lost a good portion of their volunteers because of COVID-19 safety restrictions, but Chubbs said they have changed their distribution model to make sure food is still being distributed.

Now volunteers box up food and other supplies and drop them in people’s cars as they drive by. The boxes come prepacked and ready to go. The food bank holds drive-thru distribution events 3-4 times a month around the area for those in need, as well.

For Jackson, he says while times are hard he will continue to make sure those in need get meals and clothing, but he relies on donations to help.

“We are going to find a way to make things happen,” Jackson said.

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