One in eight Texas households struggled to avoid hunger between 2018 and 2020, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released today. An average thirteen percent of Texas households experienced ‘food insecurity’ in that time period, meaning they faced hunger or engaged in coping mechanisms to avoid it.
Data analyzed by Northwestern University during the first six months of the pandemic showed food insecurity spiking to one in four households, when massive job loss caused widespread financial stress. Later that year, food insecurity rates appeared to be mitigated somewhat by increased action from the federal government and private charity.
“Food insecurity is about economic uncertainty, and these latest data reflect the roller-coaster of uncertainty launched by the pandemic. While many Texans experienced this uncertainty for the first time over the last eighteen months, the reality is that millions of families faced hunger prior to the pandemic,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “This uncertainty is likely to continue for some time, particularly given the resurgence of the virus. In the meantime, we need to sustain our efforts to keep our neighbors nourished and our communities resilient.”
Food banks across the state fear substantial drops in public and private support while requests for assistance remain in a very slow decline.
“We know we can’t ‘food bank’ our way through the end of this crisis,” said Cole. “But we have seen clearly that private charity partnered with public investment in nutrition programs, unemployment assistance, and child tax credits can bridge the gap. COVID may be a tough battle to conquer, but hunger is easily treated.”