AUSTIN, Texas - Austin ISD will close next week from July 6-10, meaning families who have been relying on the district to provide meals for students will not have access to that support.
In previous years, the food bank would step in and fill those needs during the closure, but with the COVID-19 pandemic leaving so many additional families in need of food support, this year the Austin community is coming together to help.
“We need to remember that there's a lot of folks who don't have access to that. And part of being American is putting out a hand, helping lift people up with you, so we can all have enough to eat,” said Robert Nathan Allen, who works with the Keep Austin Together Initiative.
When Allen found out Austin ISD wouldn't be available to provide meals for students while the district is closed, he started making calls, eventually resulting in the Keep AISD Kids Fed campaign.
“While this is something that happens every year, this year it's especially critical because more people need these resources right now. And the resources that have been available in the past and are available this year, like Central Texas Food Bank, are already facing a lot more demand than normal,” Allen said.
The campaign is a partnership between restaurants, nonprofits, farms, and community networks. At about $6 per meal and with 1,400 mouths to fill, The Keep Families Giving foundation worked on grassroots fundraising.
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In two and a half weeks the effort has raised more than $60,000 to provide about 10,000 meals to 700 kids 7 days a week. That’s halfway to their goal.
“When we said, ‘We're willing to put dollars behind these kids to make sure they're fed, but we need your help.’ We've really just seen a lot of people step up in big ways,” said Chelsea Toler-Hoffman, president of Keep Families Giving Foundation.
Several local restaurants have also joined in to cook the meals.
“They can expect fantastic food prepared by a staff of people that really care about what they're doing, using local produce that we're buying and some even donated from a bunch of local farms that we care about,” said Fiore Tedesco III, chef and co-owner of L’Oca d’Oro.
The initiative will also help hospitality workers who have either been furloughed or had their hours reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. By using an app called Shiftsmart, those workers can sign up to distribute meals to students and food bank recipients while making $15-20 per hour.
“So they do need more volunteers. So we're linking up the underemployed and furloughed hospitality workers who really know how to hustle, know how to deal with customers, and know how to handle food,” said Lawton Cummings, partner at Notley.
There will be two pick up locations for families:
- El Buen Samaritano in South Austin will be available Tuesday-Thursday
- Notley's Springdale General in East Austin will be available Monday-Friday
To donate to the cause, or to find pickup hours and more information, click here.
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