One in eight Texas households has problems with food insecurity, according to a new federal study. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture survey also found that food insecurity did not increase dramatically between 2018 and 2020, when the pandemic began.
Still, he showed that the state has persistently struggled with hunger more than the national average. Nationally, 10.5% of families surveyed by the USDA on average struggled to put food on the table, compared to more than 13% of Texas households.
Texas was one of nine states during this survey period that recorded higher-than-average food insecurity rates, that is, households struggling to find food. Texas was one of seven that grew very loose food insecurity, which means households were occasionally left without food, according to the USDA.
Nationally, food insecurity fell globally between 2018 and 2020. The report found that the national food insecurity rate in 2019 reached the lowest rate since before the 2007 Great Recession; 15 states also experienced significant falls in food insecurity in this time period.
Lots of jeans have been waiting in parking lots and cramped parking lines meandering for miles to get help from food banks during the pandemic. But the CEO of Feeding Texas, the nonprofit organization that manages food banks across the state, said there is a bright spot in the data: the federal funding of the CARES Act and the plan to American recovery led to a brief decline in statewide pandemic hunger.
“Food insecurity did not increase during the pandemic and at certain points … was much lower than normal, largely due to the significant infusion of federal resources to fight hunger and prevent food insecurity,” he said. Celia Cole. “So I think that’s a success story.”
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The rise was greatly reduced in 2020, he said, in part because of rent subsidies, eviction bans and expanded federal-funded food access programs.
Nationally, the number of adults who did not need enough food was 9.5% in April 2020 and up to 13.4% in December. In April 2021 it fell to 8%.
However, 1 in 8 households in Texas has difficulty putting food on the table. And many of these federal protections, such as expanded unemployment insurance, increased access to food stamps, and eviction moratoriums, have disappeared.
Jeremy Everett, executive director of Baylor University’s Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, said extended safety net programs were crucial to many jeans, especially in color communities. These groups have seen excessive rates of food insecurity in a pandemic that has also disproportionately impacted them, he said.
“Unfortunately, for black and Hispanic households, food insecurity increased, in some cases quite extremely,” Everett said. “People of color continue to bear the weight of our broken social systems. They have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. “
Everett said the disparity suggests “structural racism”, which is a huge obstacle to ending hunger in the US
Governor Greg Abbott’s recent call for a third special legislative session included the priority of distributing federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan.
Both Everett and Cole expect lawmakers to use that federal money to expand free or reduced-price meal programs and allocate more resources to food banks. Cole said he also expects local governments and private charities to step up to meet demand as the pandemic continues.
Last month, the Texas Commission on Human Services and Health expanded its debit-based food benefits program for families. Qualified families have until Sept. 13 to apply for the program.