Feed the City works to support Central Texans living under the shadow of food insecurity amid COVID-19 outbreak

The Feed the City event will be hosted April 4. (Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Feed the City event will be hosted April 4. (Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Feed the City event will be hosted April 4. (Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)

Central Texas food banks are experiencing a dramatic increase in need as communities face myriad challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As businesses struggle and individuals seek unemployment benefits, local food banks will require the support of individuals and organizations to aid the 46 million Americans living under the shadow of food insecurity, according to Nick Marino, a director at Tango Tab.

The Dallas-based company Tango Tab has fed over 3.7 million people since 2011 by providing meals to local food charities every time a customer dines out using the application.

The company launched its monthly engagement event, Feed the City, in 2015 in an effort to bring volunteers from all walks of life together to prepare meals for the community.

On average the event can produce between 1,000 and 7,000 meals made by volunteers in about an hour, Marino said.



Feed the City has been hosted at the downtown Austin restaurant Clay Pit since 2016 and was slated to launch in the Lake Travis-Westlake area prior to the mandated shelter-in-place order issued by Travis County.

While the event is still scheduled to take place at Oz. Tap House on April 4, it will take on a different form, putting community engagement aside for the sake of safe social distancing.

Individuals are encouraged to bring granola bars, oatmeal, soup, water, peanut butter, canned vegetables and various other nonperishables to Oz. Tap House from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Marino added all of these meals will be distributed throughout the community, keeping the donations local.

Feed the City workers will be sporting gloves and masks as they remove the food items from participants’ trunks or truck beds, limiting social interaction.

Despite the challenges due to the coronavirus, it was critical to move forward with the event, Marino said.

“The need is definitely increasing,” Marino said. “If you look at the capital-area food banks, they’re usually reliant on donations.”

In times of economic uncertainty, nonprofits generally experience a decline in donations, Marino explained, adding organizations saw this occur during the 2008 recession.

However, food focused nonprofits are feeling the impact of a newfound challenge. Amid news of a shelter-in-place many took to local grocery stores, leaving shelves emptier than usual.

A number of food banks, including the Central Texas Food Bank, receive food from stores such as H-E-B and other large chains that routinely donate their extra items.

“You’re not going to see that because our stores can’t even keep their shelves full,” Marino said.



Derrick Chubbs, the CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank, said he agrees with Marino, stating obtaining food items has proven to be a challenge at this time.



“You’ve seen the shelves,” Chubbs said.

Due to a lack of available goods, the nonprofit has been purchasing items at the market rate, which is more expensive.



Amid the apparent uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Austin community can support its neighbors feeling the strain of food insecurity. Oz. Tap House and Clay Pit will both be collecting drop-off donations April 4.



“Our food organizations are going to be greatly impacted,” Marino said. “So as much as we can help as a community and get those shelves full for people in need ... it’s huge.”



MOST RECENT

Austin City Hall (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Some on Austin City Council want more of its $272 million coronavirus relief package to go to residents in need

City Council will determine how much to put toward direct financial assistance at its June 4 meeting.

Candidates in the Senate District 14 special election responded to Community Impact Newspaper's questions about their campaigns to fill the vacant seat in the Texas Senate. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Senate District 14 candidates discuss the issues ahead of July 14 election

There are six candidates running in the special election to fill the seat of former Sen. Kirk Watson through 2022.

Bee Cave Mayor Kara King took to Facebook on May 28 to address the method in which Travis County documents active coronavirus cases. (Courtesy Pexels)
Bee Cave mayor speaks out against Travis County data system regarding COVID-19 cases

Bee Cave Mayor Kara King took to Facebook on May 28 to address the method in which Travis County documents active coronavirus cases.

Data shows Hwy. 71 has become safer, including the number of crashes and injuries per week, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Despite higher traffic counts, Hwy. 71 in western Travis County is trending safer

Information from the Texas Department of Transportation as of late May shows that while traffic counts along HWY 71 where it meets RM 620 in western Travis County have risen steadily from 2014 to 2020, the death rate on that road has also dropped substantially in that same time period.

Travis County judge pushes back against attorney general's reprimand of stay-at-home order

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe responded to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's warning that county coronavirus orders conflicted with the state's.

Cap Metro and its community partners have combined to delivery more than 300,000 meals to community members in need. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro, community partners deliver more than 300K meals to community

The public transportation agency is teaming up with businesses and nonprofits to provide meals for those in need.

At the conclusion of nearly two months of remote learning, LISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing issued a statement May 29 to LISD families and employees. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
On last day of school, Leander ISD's 'heroism and resilience' lauded by superintendent

At the conclusion of nearly two months of remote learning, LISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing issued a statement May 29 to LISD families and employees.

The Austin Central Library will reopen after it was closed for more than two months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin libraries, in-person pet adoptions to begin reopening June 1

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will begin opening amenities, but there is no date set to open Barton Springs Pool.

A photo of the Travis County headquarters sign
Austin Public Health officials say they plan to increase support to Latino community, where coronavirus hospitalizations are up

As of May 26, 76 Hispanic individuals in Travis County were hospitalized with COVID-19, representing around 78% of all hospitalizations.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates for Travis County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
92nd coronavirus death reported in Travis County

Active hospitalizations in the metropolitan area dropped from 97 to 88 over the past 24 hours.

Travis County continues to urge residents to follow social distancing guidelines when out in public. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County officials: 20 new coronavirus hospitalizations per day would strain local hospital capacity

Dr. Mark Escott said new admissions per day is a key measure to determine if the county should be more or less restrictive in its guidance to residents and businesses.

A May 27 preliminary budget discussion showed Central Health expects to see a slow-down in property tax revenue growth in fiscal year 2020-21. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early budget forecasts from Central Health show anticipated 'slow-down' in tax revenue collection

Preliminary budget forecasts from Central Health show the health care district anticipates a slow down in tax revenue collection growth.