I am fortunate and grateful that I have never dealt with true food insecurity. I've certainly gone through my fair share of rough patches financially, but I've always had some friend or family member available who would give me a meal if I needed it.

However, for many, that resource isn't so readily available, and food insecurity is growing in the United States. It's no surprise, as we've all seen the cost of food skyrocket over the last year. I audibly gasped at the store this week when I saw a bag of Fritos with a printed-on cost of $5.69.

What exactly does "food insecurity" mean? A food insecure household is, "uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food."

Sadly, my home state of Texas ranks as the second-highest food-insecure state in the U.S. Why is this happening?

Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash
Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash

Part of the problem is nationwide, as SNAP benefits reverted to pre-pandemic requirements:

In October, between 500,000 to 1 million of the nation's lowest-income adults were cut off from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program following the program's work-reporting requirement returning after being temporarily suspended during the pandemic.

But why is Texas, in particular, only behind Arkansas in food insecurity? According to Feeding Texas, part of the problem is that rural communities tend to be more improvised, and Texas is a state with vast stretches of rural-only areas:

Rural families often face higher rates of hunger because of the unique challenges of living remotely. These challenges include poor geographic access to healthy food, limited or unreliable job opportunities, and high rates of un- and under-employment.

Other groups facing food insecurity challenges include African Americans, Latino/a populations, and seniors. Heart-breakingly, 20% of Texas children are simply not getting enough to eat.

What can be done? 

Feeding Texas uses a multi-pronged approach to combat hunger in Texas, including "feeding the need" directly with food pantries. They also work towards changing public policy so that this need can be addressed on a state level. If you feel called to help, you can donate or find out more at Feeding Texas, or contact your nearest food bank.

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