Hunger/Food Insecurity

Millions of Texans Remain Food Insecure Despite Recovered Economy

USDA reports 17% of Texas families struggled to avoid hunger in latest period

2015 food insecurity - 1 in 6 texans-01.pngOne in six Texas households struggled to avoid hunger in 2012-2014 despite a fully-recovered economy, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released today. 17.2% percent of Texas households were found to have experienced hunger or engaged in coping mechanisms to avoid it, significantly higher than the national rate of 14.3%.

In raw numbers, 1.7 million Texas households were food insecure, more than any other state except California. The state’s food insecurity rate was once again statistically unchanged from the prior three-year period.

According to the report, 87% of food insecure Americans lived in a household earning less than 185% of the federal poverty line, the equivalent of $37,000 for a family of three and the cut-off for many federal programs.

The USDA report is available here.

Map the Meal Gap 2015

In the last year, the number of children who are at-risk of hunger1-in-4-kids-01.png increased by 18,630 in southeast Texas.  While the overall food insecurity rate dropped very slightly in the 18 counties served by the Houston Food Bank, it got worse for kids.  The percentage of food insecure children grew from last year’s 24.7% to 26%.  That’s one in four southeast Texas children, a total of 448,490 kids who live in homes that don’t have consistent access to enough nutritious food.

Overall in southeast Texas, the food insecurity rate continues to hover around 18% when adults are factored in, down from 19% last year.

The numbers come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap study, which looks at food insecurity rates on a county-by-county basis across America.

Food insecure people – who are often living in poverty or just above it – can have food in their pantries, but they often cannot afford fresh produce, meat and other nutritious items that are necessary for a healthy life.  Processed food high in sugar and fat are a more affordable alternative.  According to Centers for Disease Control, the poorer the child, the higher the risk of early childhood obesity.  

The Houston Food Bank combats hunger and food insecurity by distributing nutritious food through a network of 600 partner hunger relief charities, feeding 800,000 people each year.

On a typical day in the 18 southeast Texas counties served by the Houston Food Bank, 66,200 people are hungry and can't afford to buy food.  Of that number, 5,000 are children.

One in five households in the same area faces food insecurity.  They live with the threat of being hungry, or having inconsistent access to enough nutritious food. 

It's even worse for kids: one in four children is food insecure in southeast Texas.

In Texas, 6.5% of households experience hunger, or "very low food security."

If you're worried about keeping food on the table, it's likely you're worried about all your household expenses and distracted from achieving other goals that can make life better.

Southeast Texas food insecurity by county

How does Texas compare?  It's not good.

Texas has either the second or third highest rate of food insecurity in the country at 18.5%.  Arkansas and Mississippi are tied for first place with 19.2%.  That's the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

U.S. food insecurity and hunger (very low food security) by state 

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