AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 438,000 people in Central Texas face food insecurity.
Travis County accounts for almost half with nearly 200,000 people food insecure and 41 percent don’t qualify for financial assistance, according to new data from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2019.
“It’s that end of the month, and sometimes that end of the month comes about three weeks before the end of the month,” said Carol Rawson, the manager at the Travis Heights Harvest Blessings Food Pantry.
Every month, the Travis Heights Harvest Blessings Food Pantry feeds 10,000 people. “We are the largest pantry in the area,” Rawson said. The pantry serves families, elderly people, veterans and homeless people.
Arsiaga is one of the regulars at the pantry, turning to them to help make ends meet.
“This has been a blessing to me,” she said. “I’ve been coming here for the past year and I’ve been taking at least two or three times a week to survive.”
She shares an apartment with her son and daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.
“The cost of living here is very high,” she said. “I think we’re paying almost $1,600 for a three-bedroom, so we’re like The Waltons, you know.”
Her family works and makes just enough money to not qualify for food stamps something Rawson said she sees often.
“A lot of people that are just working poor, these are people that when it comes to the end of the month they’ve ran out of check.”
Central Texas Food Bank President and CEO Derrick Chubbs said that is a common misconception.
“The face of hunger isn’t what you think,” he said. “It isn’t homeless, they only make seven percent of those we serve are homeless, 65 percent of those that depend on us every week are working households.”
Arsiaga also volunteers at the pantry and sees many others in the same position she’s in. “There’s a lot of stories, I could write you a book one day,” she said.
This weekend, people can help feed the community through Stamp Out Hunger, an annual food drive where people can fill out a bag with non-perishable food items, leave it by your mailbox and on Saturday postal carriers will pick it up and deliver the bags to the Central Texas Food Bank.
There are specific items the food bank is in need of including:
- Peanut butter
- Canned chicken breast or tuna
- Canned low sodium vegetables
- Canned fruit in its own juice (no sugar added)
- Dry pinto beans
- Brown rice
- Non-fat dry milk powder
- 100% whole grain cereal
The Central Texas Food Bank serves 21 counties in and around the Austin area.