AUSTIN, Texas - Thousands of people attend the Central Texas Food Bank's drive-through food distributions each week. The CEO of the food bank told FOX 7 Austin that instead of getting their food from donations or discounted rates, the organization is having to buy the food they pass out at retail price.
“This is our mission so we couldn't be more excited about the future and to serve our communities in times like this,” said Derrick Chubbs, President, and CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank.
Chubbs says the food bank has revamped its distribution model to fit the increase in the number of clients and a decrease in the number of donations.“In Central Texas, our retail donations are down 80% which puts us in a position to have to purchase food. Something that's not a part of our model,” he said.
Chubbs says the food bank has almost never had to pay full price for the food they give out.
“We have a budget for purchasing food. However, that budget, the amount has increased 10X of what we typically spend for purchasing food,” he said.
The food bank relies heavily on donations, or, in certain cases, being able to purchase food from around the country at a discount through the Feeding America Project. Although, the shortage in food has made it difficult.
“In today's environments, we're paying retail and beyond that just to meet the need to make sure that we try and help our friends and neighbors have food on their tables,” said Chubbs.
The Central Texas Food Bank has seen a 90% increase in new clients. “In April alone, we served more than 100,000 households and over 340,000 individuals across our 21 county area,” said Chubbs.
Chubbs says the Central Texas Food Bank is not the only food banks facing this problem. He says food banks nationwide are all struggling.
“If they don't have as much on the shelves that means they don't have a lot to donate to us,” he said.
The food bank has even had to get creative with how they handle their volunteers. “We can accommodate as many as 120 per shift for volunteers while based on the challenges of social distancing. We've had to drop that some 70%,” said Chubbs.
Regardless of the circumstances, Chubbs says the food bank will continue to be an outlet to those who need food.
“This isn't going away anytime soon so my team and I are planning to be distributing food at these levels or maybe even above throughout this calendar and into next year,” he said.
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