Central Texas Food Bank Aids Poor During The Pandemic


Photo By Calle Macarone on Unsplash

A photo of soup cans on cardboard. Many in the community are struggling to get essential supplies such as food in the current COVID-19 crisis. The local food bank has been working to ease this struggle.

By Shawkin Kabir, Reporter

The Central Texas Food Bank in Austin has always been an essential part of the community, providing food to those who need it. With rising unemployment numbers, more and more people have become dependent on the food bank to meet basic needs. This new reality is not lost on the food bank’s staff.

“For those who were already experiencing food insecurity prior to the pandemic, the crisis has made things worse,” Marketing and Communications Director Paul Gaither said. “Businesses have closed or laid-off workers and children who might normally get free meals at school are now at home, further stressing budgets.”

Demand for the Central Texas Food Bank services has increased by a striking 300 percent. In response to this, the food bank has added mass drive-through distribution and hygiene kits that contain shampoo, toothpaste, baby wipes, and more. The food bank has also worked on making its services more accessible.

“As demand has increased and we’ve added additional food distributions and made changes to others, this food finder has provided people with the latest info on where they can go for help,” Mr. Gaither said. “The partnership with CapMetro and H-E-B, using MetroAccess vehicles, has delivered thousands of boxes of food to those who have limited mobility for one reason or another.”

The Central Texas Food Bank has received aid to help them meet increasing demands during this time. They have acquired funds from the All Together ATX campaign and the Greater Austin Merchants Association (GAMA) has given $25,000. The money from GAMA will pay for 200,000 meals.

Many students have also taken notice of the hardships brought on by the pandemic and decided to volunteer at the food bank.  During their time volunteering, they noticed the difficulties in their time working to help bring supplies to those who need it.

“During the quarantine, I helped at [the] food bank,” Henry Baizer ‘21 said. “ [I] saw first hand how many people needed the help that food banks provide. So many people have lost their jobs [at] this time and just need help for a little bit.”

Other students were forced to stop volunteering due to health concerns. One of these students, Philip Wong ‘22,  had volunteered during the first week of the stay-at-home order, but he had a high-risk person in his home, forcing him to stop volunteering. 

“Personally, I think the food bank’s contribution towards this crisis is absolutely amazing,” Wong said, “especially since they’re giving out crisis packages to those in need as well as supplying food for AISD students who may not have food at home.”

The Central Texas Food Bank has implemented a number of ways to meet the demand brought by record-high unemployment, including new partnerships. This will be important as joblessness continues to rise. People can contribute through monetary donations and by virtual food drives.