AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin city council will decide on a contract that will support a mobile food pantry service in the Eastern Crescent during Thursday’s council meeting.

The Central Texas Food Bank (CTFB) offers the service to central Texas counties and has been receiving funding from the city for the past two years to support its efforts. A city Public Health department spokesperson said the contract up for discussion during the council meeting would allow the food bank to expand its service in Austin’s Eastern Crescent.

Documents attached to the agenda item show the contract would last a year and cost $180,000. A spokesperson for council member Vanessa Fuentes said the district 2 member is in support of the contract and believes the increased help for the program will go toward combating the food insecurity issue in southeast and east Austin.

Food insecurity issue in Austin

The city reported in 2022 that 16% of the population were facing food insecurity, which is two points higher than the national average.

The CTFB offers a mobile pantry at 12 different distribution sites in the Eastern Crescent throughout a month. You can check the schedule to see where the pantry will be. Its CEO, Sari Vatske, said the organization has a goal of reaching 11,000 unduplicated people every month.

“We are seeing an increased need more than ever. We’re seeing pandemic levels of numbers in need, but with the sunset of federal programs, there continues to be a gap. So we do continue to need this funding,” Vatske explained.

The city’s Public Health department is leading the contract agreement for the city. It has been working to address the food insecurity issue in Austin. A spokesperson said through the department’s social services investments, it has distributed more than 360,000 pounds of food to over 5,500 unique clients in the Eastern Crescent since 2021.

If the contract is authorized by council on Thursday, it will go into effect later the same day.