Demand at the food bank doubles as food prices soar

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Central Texas Food Bank is busier than ever. This past month, in Travis County alone, demand more than doubled. Some distribution sites are 400% busier than usual and some 22,000 new individuals have been fed.

“We’re looking at an entirely different business model,” says Derrick Chubbs, president and CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank. “It’s easy to understand that probably a significant number of (the new clients) come from the service industry.”

Before the pandemic, food was distributed at several long tables. Clients could walk up, see the food they wanted, and pick it for themselves. Fresh produce was an option. Over a hundred volunteers helped distribute the food.

Now, thirty volunteers work each site. Fresh produce isn’t an option. Food is placed in boxes, mostly food that can last awhile, and then placed in the back of cars. Human contact is limited.

Thankfully, the Central Texas Food Bank knows how to stretch a buck. Through large food donations, buying in bulk using monetary donations, and with government commodities, the food bank can reduce the cost of food and create more meals. Essentially, a $1 donation can create four meals.

However, that might not last. “Today (the boxes) cost me about five bucks, five-and-a-half. Purchasing that food is going to push the price up to $30 per box.”  says Chubbs. The food bank anticipates it could soon be distributing 25,000 of these boxes.

“That family that may have only come to me one week, now more than likely will be coming to us every single week.” Says Chubbs.

During the 2018 government shutdown, Chubbs says he saw a similar situation. It took several weeks for families to recover then. He says it will likely take several months for these families to get back on their feet after the prolonged economic downturn we are currently facing.

However, the Central Texas Food Bank is confident they’ll be there to support those families in need. “This community has been extremely good to the food bank for years,” says Chubbs. “I fully expect us to be distributing food for quite a while.”

If you’re interested in helping out the food bank: CLICK HERE

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