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New USDA report shows Texas is one of the most food-insecure states

Texas is one of nine states whose food insecurity rate is higher than the national average, and the Central Texas Food Bank say numbers in our area are even worse.

TEXAS, USA — A newly released report from the USDA shows nine states are above the national average when it comes to food insecurity, and Texas is, unfortunately, one of them.

Car after car was rolling into the parking lot of Del Valle High School Saturday morning at the weekly food giveaway hosted by the Central Texas Food Bank. These giveaways started back in April 2020 but are still in place. Although since the peak of the pandemic, the need has gone down, it is definitely still there. All kinds of people are in need of food, many falling on hard times

"We see nice new cars, we see old cars, we see all races,” said Michael Hare, a food bank volunteer. “You know, we see a lot of veterans, we see a lot of handicapped people. It probably goes from blue-collar to white-collar and everything in between. So, everybody's kind of needing some help to keep things going right now."

These people who need assistance from the Central Texas Food Bank are not who you would always assume, they are your neighbors and colleagues, or maybe even the person handing you your food.

"When COVID hit, the very first wave of COVID, when it hit, everything slowed down at work,” said Hare. “They cut shifts. They kept everybody working. So, we didn't miss a day of work, but our hours dropped drastically.”

For Hare, less hours meant less money coming in. He and his family ended up getting food from the Central Texas Food Bank.

“So, I kept my job, but know the paycheck was dropped a lot. So, it just kind of made it difficult to keep everything taken care of in the house,” said Hare.

Hare is now a frequent volunteer for the food bank, and said they helped him, so now he wants to give back. Hare's story is one that Beth Corbett with the Central Texas Food Bank tells us is a common one.

"So many families that we serve are working households that are just one medical bill or, you know, one car payment away from really struggling to put food on the table for their families. The face of hunger isn't always what you think in Central Texas,” said Beth Corbett, director of advocacy and public policy.

The just-released USDA report shows that from 2018 to 2020, 10.5% of people in the U.S. were considered food insecure. In Texas, that number was higher, with 13.3% of people being food insecure. In Central Texas, the situation is even worse.

"The latest numbers show us that one in seven Central Texans are food insecure and actually one in five Central Texas children is facing hunger,” explained Corbett.

The Central Texas Food Bank website says that 93% of their clients are not homeless, 34% of their clients are kids, and 20% are grandparents who are taking care of their grandkids. At the Del Valle High School food giveaway location alone, they serve 200-300 households per month.

Over the past decade, food insecurity has improved both in the U.S. and in Texas, according to the new USDA report. In Texas, from 2008-2010, over 18% of people were food insecure, compared to the 13.3% now.

The workers and volunteers at the food bank cannot control the factors that make people become in need of food. But Hare said giving away your time, even for just a few hours early on a Saturday morning, is one small act of kindness that can make a big difference.

"So, you know, maybe it's just a drop in the bucket, but a drop in the bucket fills it up eventually," he said.

To read the full USDA Food Security Report, click here. For more resources and food giveaways from the Central Texas Food Bank, click here.


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