National Study Shows Texas Ranks Among the Highest in Food-Insecure States

NORTH TEXAS (WBAP/KLIF News ) – Despite its bustling economy, Texas ranks among the nation’s most food-insecure states in the country.

A recent Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study shows almost five million Texans are struggling with hunger, one out of three are children, and thousands are in the North Texas Food Bank service area.

The startling statistics has officials with the North Texas Food Bank, Tarrant Area Food Bank and Feeding Texas sounding the alarm.

The study shows that Texas has a food insecurity rate of 16.4% and has surpassed California on the list.

The figures also highlight some of the issues the North Texas Food Bank 13-county service area. It ranks as the country’s fourth-largest area of food insecurity.

According to the study, 1 in 8 people, which amounts to about 777,690 individuals, are struggling with hunger. The rate of child food insecurity surged to 20.8%, which reflects an alarming rise from the previous year.

“While Texas boasts of being bigger in many aspects, leading the nation in food insecurity is not a badge of honor we can proudly wear,” said Trisha Cunningham, President and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank. “In the heart of North Texas, where the number of people facing hunger is greater than the populations of cities like Seattle or San Francisco, the statistic that strikes hardest is nearly 40% of those in need are children, and that is just unacceptable. Yet, amid these struggles, the North Texas Food Bank is committed to closing the hunger gap in North Texas through the dedication of generous supporters and steadfast partnerships.”

Here are some of the other key findings of the Map the Meal Gap:

Texas has 1,697,870 children facing hunger with a food insecurity rate of 22.8% or 1 in 4, up from 18% in 2021.

• NTFB’s 13-county service area continues to have the fourth-highest number of people facing hunger in the nation, with a food insecurity rate of 14.2%, up from 11.9% in 2021.

• An estimated 777,690, or 1 in 8 people, face food insecurity in NTFB’s service area. • NTFB has a child food insecurity rate of 20.8%, with 286,860 children, or 1 in 5, up from 15.8% in 2021.

• There continue to be disparities in who faces hunger. In the NTFB service area: o 1 in 4 (28%) Black persons are food insecure, up from 1 in 5 (22%) in 2021. o 1 in 5 (20%) Hispanic persons, up from 1 in 7 (14%) in 2021. o 1 in 11 (9%) White, non-Hispanic persons, up from 1 in 14 (7%) in 2021.

• The estimated annual meal gap for NTFB’s service area is more than 146 million, compared with nearly 113 million in 2021.

• In NTFB’s service area, 51% of those facing hunger have a family income under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) threshold.

• Map the Meal Gap data estimates the cost per meal for those living in NTFB’s service area is $3.83, up from $3.37 in 2021.

• Dallas County has 52% of NTFB’s food-insecure population, followed by Collin County, which has 17%; Denton County, which has 15%; and the remaining 10 counties, which have 16%.

“Feeding Texas” CEO Celia Cole details some of the main drivers behind the startling statistics.

“During the pandemic people got additional resources for food, food banks got additional resources to help the people in our lines and all of that went away,” she said.

The issue is compounded by record-high inflation and healthcare deserts that prevent some prevents from getting better jobs.

To address the growing need, the North Texas Food Bank said its strategic plan includes partnering with over 500 pantries and organizations.

Last month, the Tarrant Area Food Bank announced it is at risk of a food shortage to meet expected summer demands.

Click here to learn more about the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Click here to learn more about the North Texas Food Bank.

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