In one hour, the Central Texas Food Bank served 405 households at its Linder Elementary School distribution site on Thursday.
Volunteers from across the community – including school nurses, a janitor, an assistant vice principal and college students with extended spring breaks – armed themselves with gloves and loaded boxes of food into cars, all while practicing safe social-distancing measures.
“Just because we have a pandemic, I still have the same food-insecure population that I had two weeks ago,” President and CEO Derrick Chubbs said.
The Central Texas Food Bank normally serves 46,000 to 50,000 clients each week across 21 counties in Central Texas. Chubbs expects that number to increase.
“What we anticipate is more individuals that are being impacted because restaurants are closing and the like,” he said. “We literally are going to have to change our business model.”
This means both minimizing human contact and ensuring the food bank has a food supply to serve a larger population.
The food bank has bought more emergency cardboard boxes for food packing. At distribution centers, volunteers instruct clients to remain in their cars during loading.
The food bank normally gets donations from local grocery stores, but people clearing out shelves amid the pandemic could affect that.
“If the grocery shelves are empty, the likelihood of them being able to donate food to the food bank is severely limited,” Chubbs said. “That’s what’s forcing us to have to shift our model and purchase food from vendors across the country.”
The Central Texas Food Bank continues to accept volunteers and donations as it adapts in these uncertain times.
“It’s very challenging to be able to do this,” Chubbs said, “but we are an essential service to this community.”