HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN)– The coronavirus pandemic is causing some area food pantries to see an increased need for their services.
On Wednesday evening, a Hays County Food Bank distribution ran out of items.
Spokesperson Celeste Ceniseros says they’re seeing many people from nearby areas that might be low on food.
“We have seen a lot more people come through,” Ceniseros says.
She says over the last week or so, the Hays County Food Bank has seen dozens of new faces.
China Hickinbottom is one of them.
“Something like this outbreak, you can’t afford anything new on your plate, you’re barely making it as it is,” Hickinbottom says as she waits in line.
That’s why Viviana Huerta and her son Noah Rodriguez are volunteering for the first time.
“We can go to the grocery store, some of these folks can’t,” Huerta says.
Rodriguez thinks of his grandparents.
“While we were down there, fortunately we were able to go to the grocery store and get them stuff because we know that they can’t do that,” he says.
Ceniseros says with more people expected in the weeks to come — they’ll need more help keeping up.
“We rely on a lot of people like from the college and things like that, that need class hours to help us with volunteering. So not having them here has put a little bit of a hurt on us,” Ceniseros says.
Other food banks are also asking for more hands to handle the uptick; the Central Texas Food Bank posted an alert to their website.
One way organizers are trying to keep their volunteers — and clients safe is by switching to a drive-thru method.
“We just have them pop the trunk, we put the groceries in there, we close the trunk and they head on their way,” Ceniseros says.
They’ve also increased cleaning protocols inside food bank.
Bags and boxes are usually prepared in their San Marcos building before being taken by van to different distribution points across Hays County.
“Everything that we touch or that’s coming from outside — as far as donations — are being sanitized and very frequently, so we do it every other hour,” Ceniseros says.
It’s all a way for people like Hickinbottom to get the help they need — and for people like Huerta who want to offer it a chance to do so.
“Who knows what’s going to happen?” Huerta says. “So if we can help right now, we’re all for it.”
The Hays County Food Bank still has to follow county bans on gatherings of 10 or more people.
They’re asking that if you’d like to volunteer, please sign up online here, so that they can stagger shifts.
To find a food bank near you, click here.