City to Continue Ready-to-Eat Meal Delivery through Sept. 30.
A program developed by the City of Austin and community partners to address food access challenges during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has provided more than one million meals to people across Austin.
The Eating Apart Together (EAT) Initiative began in April 2020 to help meet immediate needs when COVID-19 stay-at-home orders had closed many restaurants, businesses, and service providers. People experiencing homelessness were immediately affected as soup kitchens, food pantries and meal service programs faced significant in staying open.
Under the Austin/Travis County Emergency Operations Center, EAT was developed to support access to food and drinking water and limit the spread of COVID-19. The effort quickly grew to involve more than 50 government, non-profit, civic, business and church partners.
Since it began, EAT has delivered over 800,000 shelf stable meals and over 200,000 prepared meals to encampments and service providers, along with more than 50,000 gallon-jugs of water, 283,000 bottles of water, 14,400 face coverings, 4,200 pairs of socks, among other hygiene and clothing items.
At the height of the pandemic, EAT delivered food and needed items directly to people throughout Austin to limit their need to travel and interact with others to meet their basic needs.
“EAT has been an incredibly important resource for thousands of people in our community while also playing a critical role in our infection control strategy during the pandemic. We are grateful to the many volunteers and donors who were part of making it a success,” said Vella Karman, who serves as the COVID-19 Homelessness Taskforce Lead, and manager of the
Homeless Services Division for Austin Public Health. “The program has also opened doors for working with new organizations to help meet the greatest needs in our community.”
City employees and more than 100 volunteers gathered at Palmer Event Center (PEC) and the Austin Convention Center (ACC) to help organize stock and pack meals for the first 13 months of EAT operations. In June, the EAT hub relocated to a warehouse owned by the Austin Independent School District.
Delivery of Prepared Meals Extended through Sept. 30
The delivery of shelf stable food ended in June. The City of Austin recently extended a contract with Good Work Austin’s Community Kitchen to continue prepared meal deliveries through September 30. Approximately 2,000 meals are supplied weekly to partner organization that provide regular meal services.
The City is continuing to explore ways to support and expand food access across Austin, as part of City Council directive for City Manager Spencer Cronk to address multiple aspects of the community’s food system and infrastructure.
Food source partners have included Central Texas Food Bank, Revolution Food, Good Work Austin and Sysco Central Texas.
Community partners in donations, delivery and distribution have included Angel House Soup Kitchen, Dell Medical School, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), EMS Explorers, Front Steps, Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST), Integral Care’s Programs for Assistance in the Transition from Homelessness (PATH), ATX Camp Support, Austin Humanists at Work, Bethel Church, Austin Central Presbyterian, Drive-By Howdy, First Baptist Church of Austin, Lupita’s Community Café, Micah 6 of Austin, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Mosaic Church, North Austin Civic Association, Saffron Trust Women’s Foundation, St. David’s Episcopal Church, Street Youth Ministry of Austin, Sunrise Community Church, Travis County Precinct Three Constables, Trinity Center, We Live to Give, Homie Happy Hour, LINC Austin, Little Herds, The Other Ones Foundation, UNI Abolition. Austin (TX) Chapter of The Links Incorporated, Hotel Van Zandt, Kingsted and Socks for the Sole.
In addition to Austin Public Health, Austin/Travis County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Austin Independent School District, government partners have included Austin-Travis Conty Emergency Medical Service and the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, Watershed Protection, Austin Animal Shelter, Austin Public Library, Office of Sustainability and the Office of Design and Delivery.