USDA: 1 in 5 Texas Households Struggles to Afford Food; Rate Projected to Rise

/, Food assistance, Wellness & Obesity/USDA: 1 in 5 Texas Households Struggles to Afford Food; Rate Projected to Rise
Working for a Better Texas

By Jeanie Donovan

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual report that finds that 1.7 million low-income households in Texas struggle to afford enough food. The report, titled Household Food Security in the United States in 2012, shows that, on average, one in five Texas households reported food insecurity between 2010 and 2012. Texas ranks 3rd in the nation for highest percentage of food insecure households and has a significantly higher rate of food insecurity at 18.4 percent than the national average 14.5 percent.

2013_09_FN_GRAPHIC_foodinsecurity

So what does it mean to be “food insecure?” The majority of U.S. households are food secure, meaning that they have consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living.  But the other 17.6 million households are food insecure, meaning they lack the financial resources to attain a consistent, nutritious diet throughout the year. Of those households that had difficulty affording food, 7 million of them were classified as having “very low food security” – the most severe condition associated with hunger. Very low food security means that family members have to reduce intake or skip meals due to limited resources.  About 6.2 percent of all Texas households suffer from very low food security.

Although the rate of food insecurity in Texas is already higher than the national average, two changes at the federal level will make things even worse. On November 1, a cut will go into effect that will reduce the SNAP benefit levels for every household on the program, regardless of need.  For a family of 4, their benefit will be cut by $36 per month, a significant sum when you are already struggling with food insecurity.  At the same time, federal lawmakers are still threatening to make dramatic cuts to SNAP as they continue to try to negotiate provisions of the Farm Bill.  The proposed changes would mean that many Texans struggling against hunger would no longer be eligible for the help SNAP provides. These changes, combined with the slow recovery of the economy, place Texas households at higher risk of experiencing food insecurity in the future.

Not only is food insecurity devastating to the individuals and families who experience it directly, it also has a negative impact on Texas as a whole. Children who are hungry have difficulty learning and reaching their full potential, and adults who are don’t have enough to eat are less healthy and are less productive members of society.

Texans must ensure that our representatives in Washington understand that food insecurity is real in Texas. Cutting more deeply into SNAP will have painful consequences for the poorest Texans and would hurt the 2 million children in Texas who rely on the program.

Click here to find out how you can join the effort to protect SNAP and reduce food insecurity rates in our state.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

2 Comments

  • In my recent research and studies, I have realized the true issues facing the impoverished of America. Skimping on groceries to afford gasoline, or your monthly car payment is a serious issue facing the working poor. People shouldn’t have to be forced to chose between their health and their way of life. Sadly, being backed into a corner with the IRS breathing down your neck is a grim reality for many. Food is the last thing on their mind when their home or utilities are in jeopardy.

    While, admittedly, it is quite easy for a single man or woman living alone to get by on a fairly decent high school education job, it is clear that this difficulty is exponentially increased when another person enters the scene. Single mothers, father, and even families with children that work on near minimum wage are in danger. Food insecurity is an ugly truth that lives with many families in America, it feeds from their helplessness and can only be stopped by the legislature. Cutting deeper into SNAP is not the answer to these problems.

    It’s one thing to feed yourself, but when you have to feed two, three, or maybe even four mouths including your own, things start to become blurred. People are forced to eat cheap and unhealthy food. Unhealthy eating leads to many health problems that could possibly affect employment, especially physical labor. When something as basic as feeding your family becomes a last priority, there is something wrong. People need to come to terms with this and step up. We can send all the money and aid to Africa that we want, but how much good is it doing when we can’t even help the people in our own backyard. Our neighbors and friends cry out to us but we turn our backs on them telling them it’s their own fault that they’re in this situation. This is only the case for a select few. No one chooses to live in poverty. It sneaks up on you, attacks you when your guard is down. When poverty gets you on the ground, it’s almost impossible to get up. You’re constantly pushed down by taxes, payments, insurance, rent, and in this case, food prices.

    “Poverty is like a bleeding wound. It weakens the defenses. It lowers resistance. It attracts predators.” -David K. Shipler. Truer words have never been spoken. People affected by poverty are weakened emotionally and physically. The constant cloud of fear and anxiety of not being able to pay the bills, or the well being of your own children that manifests above the poor is a haunting thing indeed. Food security is only one of the problems that affect the poor, but how can we move forward in helping the poor if we don’t address every problem, food security included. Cutting SNAP is not the way to go. More effort need to be taken by everyone to assure that every American can rest easy at night knowing that they are in good hands.

    Zaden 08.10.2013
  • Having food is a basic right all people in the world should have. It is a well-known fact that there are many countries with a population dying of hunger, and we Americans like to think that could never happen in our country, that we would never allow it. However, this article brings the starvation crises very close to home for all of us.
    The fact that Texas is ranked so high in the number of families who feel as though they lack the stable income to provide fully for themselves and their dependents is a failure on our part. It is our moral obligation to help provide the basic privilege of food for the Texas communities and make sure people are more sure where their next meal will come from. Texas is ranked too high on this list for us to act as if we are doing all we can to ensure food for both children and adults.
    If cuts are made from SNAP, too many families will be so negatively impacted that it would be a detriment to our state. If having a full stomach promotes learning and education, then we need to encourage everyone to help so Texas students can reach their utmost potential to further improve our society.

    Shelby 08.10.2013

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