The largest hunger relief organization in Central Texas is opening a new facility more than twice as large as its current one to help feed more Austin families.
The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas will open its new 135,000 square foot headquarters on Metropolis Drive in southeast Austin this summer. The facility will help the nonprofit add to the millions of families it serves each year, providing food and social services.
Paul Gaither, director of marketing and communications at the Food Bank, said the move to a new facility was necessary because of an increasing demand for its services.
“The building we’re in now is 20 years old,” Gaither said. “Right now we serve an area that’s about twice as large as the state of Massachusetts. The increase in space at our new headquarters will help us keep up with the growth of the community.”
The increased facility space will help the food bank provide healthier meals to families, Gaither said.
“We’re starting to need more space for refrigerators and freezers for storing food,” Gaither said. “That’s important because it means we can provide more fruits, vegetables, [and] produce — healthier food — in people’s meals, but to do that we need room for that equipment.”
Hank Perrett, CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank, said the new facility will significantly expand the food bank’s reach.
“Last year we distributed 26 million meals and fell short of meeting the need by 30 percent,” Perrett said at the new facility’s groundbreaking event last year. “This new facility will allow us to reach another 150,000 people that we’re not reaching today. This doesn’t happen by itself, this is a community coming together.”
Ally Karpel, a speech language pathology junior, said hunger and food insecurity is a very relevant issue to college students.
“A survey showed that 20 percent of UT students have had trouble affording food and skipped meals to save money,” Karpel said. “Food insecurity is more prevalent than we realize, both in Austin in general and in our own community at UT.”
Karpel volunteers with Challah for Hunger, a student organization that donates funds to the Capital Area Food Bank. Food banks are an effective way to fight hunger, Karpel said.
“People are having to choose between food and housing or medicine,” Karpel said. “That shouldn’t be something people have to worry about.
The new facility is expected to open by July, Gaither said.