(Central Texas Food Bank)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Austin, the Central Texas Food Bank has seen a tenfold increase in food costs.


The local nonprofit used to spend about $20,000 a week on food. But most of its inventory came from donations and food recovery partnerships with grocery stores, wholesalers and local farmers. Now it's spending $200,000 a week because of increased need from the public and fewer recovery opportunities, as places like HEB and Sam's Club try to keep their own shelves stocked.

The food bank serves 21 counties and distributed 52 million pounds of food in 2019. It has responded to natural disasters and fed government employees during previous shutdowns. "This has dwarfed anything else we've seen," Chief Development Officer Mark Jackson said.


(Central Texas Food Bank)


In addition to increased demand for services driving up operating costs, many local nonprofits are also facing disrupted supply chains, volunteer hiatuses and financial uncertainty. Their most acute need is emergency funding, according to a recent survey conducted by Mission Capital. Nearly half of the 458 responding organizations reported increased demand for their services. At the same time, 80% are struggling to reach their clients because of pandemic-related challenges; nearly half have instituted hiring freezes, furloughs or layoffs; and 65% said they have canceled fundraising events.

Austin Pets Alive is facing this perfect storm of challenges. Since the pandemic began, thousands of residents have fostered or adopted pets, which has been a huge relief, Public Relations and Events Manager Katera Berent said. But the organization has also taken in more animals, as rescues and shelters in rural areas have shut down in response to the pandemic. "That has been a very big change for us," she added.

Meanwhile, APA's normally robust volunteer force—around 2,000 people strong—is largely out of commission with the shelter closed to the public and social distancing recommendations still in effect. Fundraising is also down, which Berent attributes in part to rising unemployment. Its other revenue streams—a couple of thrift stores, which remain closed, and in-person events—have also dried up. "We're a bit nervous," she said.

Foundation Communities, an affordable housing developer, is in the same boat. The nonprofit has suspended its in-person volunteer programs, which provide tenants with services such as tutoring and tax preparation assistance. "We're challenged because most of our work is shoulder-to-shoulder," Executive Director Walter Moreau said.

The organization's annual fundraiser is scheduled for October, which is a concern, as is the economic slump that has accompanied the pandemic. "We've seen some foundations kind of pull back on giving because of uncertainty," he said. "Their endowments may have declined in the market, so they don't have as much money to give."

In response, nonprofits have been forced to adapt. Megan Ambrose—the vice president of marketing and events for Notley Ventures, an Austin-based organization that provides resources and funding to nonprofits and social enterprises—pointed to Code2College as an example. The local organization works to support minority and low-income high school students in STEM fields and has received funding from Notley's Philanthropitch initiative. In response to the pandemic, Code2College's staff has created an online curriculum and is working to develop a virtual alternative for summer internships.

"That's sort of the most inspiring part of the pandemic—is how well the nonprofits and social impact community are adapting and innovating," Ambrose said, while adding that these organizations still need support to survive. "It's a really tough time."

Courtney Manuel is the executive director of I Live Here I Give Here, which works to encourage philanthropy through events such as Amplify Austin. She worries that the worst may still be ahead for nonprofits, as loans such as the Paycheck Protection Program run out and the full economic fall-out of this pandemic becomes clear.

"The community turns to the nonprofit community to support them when times are really dire," she said. "So if we're not supporting our nonprofits right now so that they exist when we're on the other side of this thing, we're not going to have the infrastructure that we need to respond as things continue to unfold."

(Realtor.com)

The pre-renovated backyard of the Rogan house on Lake Austin.

Austin-based podcast host Joe Rogan, recently called one of the most influential media personalities in the country, paid at least $14.4 million for the luxury lake house he's now living in on Lake Austin, according to local real estate sources and a report by Variety magazine.
Keep Reading Show less
(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 2 oz cloudy apple juice
  • 1/2 oz ginger syrup
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 4 ginger slices, muddled
Directions: Muddle ginger slices in a shaker. Add remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Texas Longhorns will face off with the Texas Tech Raiders this Saturday.

On Saturday, the Longhorns will travel to Lubbock to face off against Texas Tech in the Big 12 season opener for both teams.

Keep Reading Show less

The November election is among us and here's what you need to know about propositions on the ballot.

In addition to voting for president, members of Congress and Austin City Council this Nov. 3., local voters will find two propositions at the bottom of their ballot with both addressing mobility issues in the city of Austin.

Keep Reading Show less

(Steven Joyner)

No city is perfect, but if we're just talking about looks, Austin—with its lush green nature spots and lakes—is pretty spectacular. Here's a look at what makes Austin the perfect place to "staycation."

Keep Reading Show less
(Photo by Maile Wilson)

Brené Brown is on to her next project, a podcast signed with Spotify.

Author and University of Texas professor Brené Brown signed a deal with Spotify for the platform rights to her new podcast "Dare to Lead," available Oct. 19.

Keep Reading Show less
(Austonia staff)

Barton Springs pool will reopen on Saturday after being closed since late June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barton Springs and Deep Eddy pools will reopen this Saturday on a modified schedule after being closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less