AUSTIN, Texas — The Central Texas Food Bank is continuing to see increased demand.
Derrick Chubbs, the president and CEO of the food bank, appeared on CNN to discuss the high demand. Chubbs said that over the past 90 days, hundreds of thousands of Central Texans have been in need of the food bank's services, many of them for the first time.
"During the month of September, we saw almost 300,000 individuals in need of our services. During the month of October, we saw that grow to 343,000 in need of our services. And we're almost finished with November and we're anticipating around a 25% increase over October. So, the need just continues to grow," Chubbs told CNN.
On Monday, Chubbs told KVUE that pre-pandemic, the food bank would spend a little over $100,000 per month for purchasing food and it is now spending $1 million per month. Chubbs said that has been the case for the last several months.
Chubbs told CNN the food bank is working hard to continue to meet the increased demand, but it is a struggle. He said the organization had to drop its number of volunteers by 70% at the onset of the pandemic and it continues to be in need of volunteers.
"Like all of my peers across the country, we are all struggling to meet the need. As you and I are having this conversation today, we are around 30% short of meeting the demand we're already seeing. However, we've been very fortunate. Our community has stepped up, our retail grocers – we're getting donated food and we're getting donations," Chubbs said.
The issue, Chubbs told both CNN and KVUE, is how the food bank – and food banks across the nation – will continue to meet increased demand in the months and even years to come.
"All of our data tells us that we will see these elevated levels through 2021, almost through 2022 and, in a worst-case scenario, into 2023. So, our concerns are more long-term than they are immediate," Chubbs told CNN. "So, making a donation to our food bank or to your local food bank, regardless of where you are, is going to be beneficial in helping us try to meet this unprecedented demand."
Chubbs told KVUE that monetary donations give the food bank the opportunity to purchase or fill the gaps that might not ordinarily be filled such as providing those in need with balanced groceries, ensuring they receive fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and shelf-stable items. He also said during the holiday season, matching gifts are "pretty critical" because "we can take that dollar and turn it into eight meals."
Chubbs also said a way people can help is simply spreading the word that there are many people in need of assistance right now.
"Hunger was always a challenge for us in Central Texas, but now it's an even bigger story," Chubbs said. "So, helping us tell the story ... the more we can keep this out front and the fact that this is a need that's impacting everybody in the community in some shape, form or fashion, I think we'll be able to – that'll help us weather this storm. And it is a storm."
If you'd like to make a donation to the Central Texas Food Bank, click here. If you'd like to volunteer, click here.
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