NPT: Them hungry still
News release from the West Texas Food Bank
New Report: Texas Has Highest Rate of Child Hunger; Area Legislators Push for State Response
Yesterday the national group Feeding America released newly calculated Census data revealing that 22.1% of Texas children live in households facing hunger, the highest rate in the nation.
In response to the issue, a bill was introduced last week in the Texas Senate that would provide $20 million to help food banks provide healthy foods to at-risk children. Last month, the bill received passage in the House with the help of votes from all West Texas Representatives, including Pete P. Gallego, “Chente” Quintanilla, Norma Chavez, Marisa Marquez, Joseph Moody, Joe Pickett, Tyron Lewis, Tom Craddick and Joe Heflin.
“More than one in five Texas children live in fear of hunger, and the problem is even worse in our area,” said Hyta Folsom, Executive Director of the West Texas Food Bank. “We are thankful that our legislators recognize the scope of this problem, and are bringing the state back to the table to help solve it.”
The Feeding America report averages the last three years of publicly available Census data to calculate the number of children living in “food insecurity,” a term denoting inconsistent access to enough food.
The Texas bill, HB 1622 would address the problem by distributing healthy staples among existing networks maintained by food banks statewide.
Legislators are meeting this week to decide the fate of the bill, which attempts to both alleviate child hunger and address rising rates of child obesity. The food distribution program would tackle both issues by making dietitian-approved foods available to children in communities where both hunger and obesity are rampant.
“We know that hunger and obesity share the common link of access to nutritious food,” remarked Folsom. “This important bill would supplement the amount of healthy food in these communities. That way, we can help families avoid hunger without having to stretch their paychecks on cheap, junk food.”
The West Texas Food bank was established by a small group of local concerned citizens in 1985 to address the critical issue of hunger in the West Texas area by securing donations of surplus foods and grocery products for distribution through a network of charitable organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry covering 45,000 square miles in 22 West Texas Counties.