When the current 60,000 square foot Capital Area Food Bank of Texas facility was built in 1997, it was designed for a city of fewer than 500,000 people and it was able to store and process 24 million pounds of food per year. Now, in 2014, more than a million people live in the Austin area. The Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in the region, with a 21-county service area, and the percentage of Central Texans who are hungry, or at risk of hunger, is growing at nearly double the rate of the overall population.
Last year the Food Bank distributed a record 29 million pounds of food in Central Texas but still fell short of meeting the demand by 30 percent. This year the Food Bank is on pace to deliver 32 million pounds of food through its mobile pantries and nearly 300 Partner Agencies, and the demand is even greater than that. The Food Bank is not falling short due to a lack of food. It's falling short because the hunger gap is widening and it doesn't have the storage capacity to take in the food or the means to deliver and distribute it.
"We're ready for the challenge and we're doing something about it. Today the Capital Area Food Bank is kicking off the 10x10 Campaign for a Hunger-Free Community to raise $10 million over 10 months to build a new 135,000 square foot facility capable of distributing 60 million pounds of food per year," said Hank Perret, President and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. "This is an important step forward in fighting hunger in our community. We've received significant support and donations for the campaign so far, but we're going to need everyone to come together to help make a hunger-free community a reality. Hunger is not an individual problem, it is a community problem."
H-E-B, the Moody Foundation, and Howard and Mary Yancy have already donated more than $1 million each to the campaign. In total, the new facility will cost more than $20 million to build and the Capital Area Food Bank has already raised nearly half of the funds. The 10x10 Campaign will raise the remaining $10 million to build a new warehouse, headquarters and infrastructure to serve the growing needs of Central Texas. The new facility will be located in the Met Center, at the Corner of Metropolis Drive and Burleson Road.
Features of the new facility:
- More than double the square footage of the current facility.
- Double the warehouse space for shelf-stable foods.
- Five times the refrigeration and freezer capacity – nearly 30 percent of the food distributed by the Food Bank in 2013 was fresh, nutritious produce.
- A commercial production kitchen to cook meals and freeze produce, reducing food waste.
- A new half-acre teaching garden to teach families how to grow their own fruits and vegetables, and eventually, provide fresh produce for the Food Bank Partner Agencies.
- 15 loading docks, compared to the current facility's two loading docks.
The campaign will also provide for three additional refrigerated transport trucks to increase capacity for food rescue and regional delivery, and three additional mobile food pantry trucks to fill the gaps in hunger relief in rural communities without access to food.
"H-E-B has a long history of supporting food banks through our Food Bank Assistance Program, which works year-round to raise awareness and battle hunger in Texas. The Capital Area Food Bank collects donated excess inventory from more than 50 of our stores, helping turn that food into meals for people who might otherwise go without," said Jeff Thomas, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Central Texas Region for H-E-B. "H-E-B's donation of $1.1 million represents the largest gift ever committed by H-E-B in Central Texas in the 109-year history of our business. I have every confidence the Food Bank will work to keep our growing community free from hunger."
Who is hungry in Central Texas?
- Your neighbors: 1 in 6 people in our community is hungry or at risk of hunger.
- Our kids: 1 in 4 local children don't know the next time they'll have a nutritious meal.
- The most vulnerable: 40 percent of the people the Food Bank serves are children or elderly.
- People who work: There is at least one employed adult in two-thirds of the households the Food Bank serves.
- People with homes: 93 percent of the people the Food Bank serves are not homeless.
- The percentage of Central Texans who are hungry, or at risk of hunger, is growing at nearly double the growth rate of the overall population.
"The Capital Area Food Bank is extremely efficient, with 96 cents from every dollar going straight back to our mission of ending hunger," said Mike Tomsu, Board Chairman of the Capital Area Food Bank. "Not only will the new facility allow us to vastly increase the amount of people we serve, but every $1 invested in the campaign will return $10 to the community in social impact, jobs and support. This facility will help create a better community for all Central Texans."
"Every donation makes a difference," Perret said. "To achieve a hunger-free community, we need everyone to join in the fight."
For more information on the 10x10 Campaign for a Hunger-Free Community, including ways to contribute, visit www.CAFB10x10.com.
About the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
The mission of Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (the Food Bank) is to nourish hungry people and lead the community in ending hunger. Founded in 1981, the Food Bank provides food and grocery products through a network of nearly 300 Partner Agencies and nutrition programs, serving nearly 46,000 people every week. Headquartered in Austin, the Food Bank serves 21 counties in Central Texas, an area about twice the size of Massachusetts. For more information on the Food Bank and its programs, visit www.austinfoodbank.org.