It is well known that Central Texas is one of the fastest growing regions in the nation thanks to an economic boom that has taken place in recent years. But you may not know that despite all of this growth and prosperity, tens of thousands of Central Texans are at risk of going hungry each week, including one in every four children.
Due to the rising cost of living, an increasing number of people in the Austin area are having to choose between food and other basic needs like housing, utilities, transportation and medicine.
New Name, New Location
Central Texas Food Bank (formerly Capital Area Food Bank of Texas) serves 46,000 of our fellow community members per week, from 21 counties across the region, and that number is on the rise.
In order to meet the growing need, Central Texas Food Bank moved from their 60,000 square foot location into a 135,000 square foot facility in July 2016. The new building has 2.5 times more dry storage and 7 times more fridge and freezer space, making it the largest hunger relief facility in the region.
Last year, the food bank distributed 33 million pounds of food, but still fell short of meeting the need by 30 percent. The hope is this new facility will allow them to reach 150,000 additional people who are food-insecure.
Hands-on Learning in the Kitchen
Perhaps the most exciting addition is a 4,000 square foot commercial kitchen, complete with a full-time chef, which will improve several existing Food Bank programs and double as a classroom.
As important as it is to provide actual food items, it is just as important to educate people about nutrition and how to convert the food they’ve been given into balanced meals for themselves and their families. Through the Food Bank’s free CHOICES nutrition program, educators cover a variety of topics ranging from disease prevention to preparing healthy meals on a budget.
The existing Food Rescue program, which involves collecting excess food from grocery stores, manufacturers and farms and distributing it to low-income families, will benefit from the new kitchen now that there is a place to freeze perishable items and prepare meals from food that otherwise may go to waste. The Food Bank’s kitchen will also be utilized for preparing nutritious meals for the Summer Food Service Program and Kids Cafe.
Path to Food Security
While it’s wonderful that Central Texas Food Bank can expand in order to meet the growing number of hungry Central Texans, the ultimate goal is to get the underserved on a path to food security. As Delia Garza, District 2 Council Member, put it during the Grand Opening event held on July 7, 2016, “In a city as prosperous as Austin, it’s unfortunate that there are families without this basic need. I hope one day we don’t need such a [large] facility.”
How You Can Help Central Texas Food Bank
Donate. Every $1 donated is equal to eight meals. You can be confident your donation is going to those in need–the Central Texas Food Bank has been awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating and ninety-six percent of your gift goes directly to support their programs. In addition to your dollars, you can also donate food.
Most requested items:
- 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
Volunteer. Scheduling a volunteer shift for you and a handful of friends is simple, thanks to the online scheduling system which allows you to schedule a shift up to six months in advance. The Food Bank’s new facility can accommodate up to 120 volunteers per shift.
Eat Burgers and Pancakes. Yes, you read that right. Through July 31, you can grab a burger at Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile during their Burger for Burger Campaign. They will match the amount of meat sold pound for pound in a donation to the Food Bank.
A full list of resources, including those for kids, seniors and SNAP benefit recipients, can be found online by visiting the Central Texas Food Bank website.
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