After Reggae Fest rainout, Capital Area Food Bank needs your help

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Last year the Capital Area Food Bank provided 28 million meals. According to president and CEO Hank Perret, the growth in the food insecure population is two times the general population growth in Austin. LAURA SKELDING / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

How much did you spend on your lunch today?

I spent $11. That $11 could have provided 44 meals for Austin families through the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Why the guilt trip? For the second year in a row The Capital Area Food Bank has had to cancel the last day of Reggae Fest, the non-profit’s biggest fundraiser. Heavy weekend  rains forced the cancellation leaving the organization about $100,000 short, which officials say is the equivalent to about 400,000 meals for the area’s families. So, now food bank officials are asking Central Texans to help to fill the gap.

Food insecurity is an unfortunate fact of life in Central Texas. More than 477, 000 Central Texans 21-county area served by the food bank could not afford adequate food at all times in 2015, according to Map the Meal Gap, a study on food insecurity conducted by Feeding America.

According to the study, in Travis County the rate of food insecurity is 17.6 percent, and in some of the further flung counties like Bell, Lee, Milam and McLennan, that rate is closer to 20 percent.

In Austin, we like to talk about our food scene almost as much as we like talking about our music scene. We have a bounty of choices: Farm-to-table, fusion, sushi, Mexican, Thai and Ethiopian. We can have our meals delivered to our homes and offices in less than five minutes. We have the choice to add a dessert, a high-protein smoothie or a craft cocktail.

The Capital Area Food Bank serves 46,000 people a week, according to spokesman Dave Shaw. So if you break the numbers down another way, that is nearly four weeks of meals. That’s a long time to be hungry.

We’ve written before that most of the people helped by the food bank are not homeless and most of the families have at least one working adult. These are people earning minimum wage or on fixed incomes whose monthly budgets are overwhelmed by the cost of housing, childcare, medical bills, transportation and utilities. Their reality is one of skipping meals and empty cupboards.

So, give to the food bank. They’ve got a lot of ground to make up. Just think, if you give $25, that’s 100 men, women and children who will not go to bed hungry. That’s two lunches and a coffee. It’s not quite the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but it is awfully close.