Central Texas Food Bank opens food pantry in South Austin to meet growing needs
The Central Texas Food Bank opened a food pantry Thursday in South Austin to address a growing need for fresh food.
The pantry will have fresh and shelf-stable items available for anyone who needs them. Some of the fresh produce will come from the food bank’s own garden.
It will be Central Texas Food Bank's first onsite pantry, located at its campus at 6500 Metropolis Drive. The food bank plans to serve about a hundred people a week through the pantry, according to Sari Vatske, the food bank's CEO. It's open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The pantry will also be a space for people to connect with caseworkers, so they can receive recurring food benefits or see if they qualify for federal nutrition programs, like SNAP.
In recent weeks, the food bank has had more first-time visitors than usual. Vatske said that the ice storm earlier this month may have had something to do with that.
"With inflation, cost of living, and particularly during the ice storm, we saw people maybe relying on our support,” Vatske said. “Groceries spoiled, there were increased expenses due to damage, and so maybe people who were once supporting [the food bank] were in need for the first time."
Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, who represents neighborhoods near the new food pantry, such as Del Valle, Dove Springs and Pleasant Hill, said increasing food access in her district has long been a priority. She said the community needs more services like this one.
“It is not okay that we have families here in this city, a prosperous city, as Austin is, who have to struggle to make ends meet and sometimes are forced to make tough decisions between putting food on their table or paying for health care or having a fund set aside for any emergency,” Fuentes said. “We have to do better by our community. No family should be going hungry in this city.”