Friday, June 27, 2008

A Quiet Crisis...

Today the Houston Chronicle editorialized on the "quiet crisis" of hunger sweeping Texas, noting that preliminary numbers from the Houston Food Bank suggest a rise in first-time users over last year, "and their needs are more acute."

The Chronicle rightly points out that summer is hardest for families with children, as school meals are no longer provided. It also notes that only 60% of Texans who may be eligible for the Food Stamps Program (now called SNAP) participate, leaving millions on the table in Washington that could be fighting hunger and stimulating the local economy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Advocates Call for Increased Food Stamps Participation

Charlie Mata, founder of the Advocates Social Services of San Antonio, called for a statewide effort to register more hungry families for Food Stamps in an op-ed published in today's Express-News. He writes:
"The food stamp program stabilizes families, improves quality of life and ends human suffering. This program prevents hunger, homelessness, utility disconnects. It helps people purchase adequate food, including special diet food. Children become healthier. It provides jobs, pulls people out of poverty, provides a positive economic impact, and it gives hope."
Almost 290,000 Bexar County residents may be eligible but are not receiving Food Stamps, costing the county
an estimated $27.3 million monthly in lost federal food aid.

"The New Normal" at Food Banks

This morning MyFox Austin News interviewed Capital Area Food Bank CEO David Davenport on the changes he is seeing at his food bank.

According to Davenport, demand is up at Austin-area feeding agencies by 15%, and many of the new faces are those of working families. "They look just like you and me," he says. "They get up every morning and go to work."

As the Capital Area Food Bank and other local organizations scramble to keep up with what they see as a long-term "new normal," the cost of living in Austin continues to rise.

"Pass the Bread" campaign kicks off

Responding to reports of increasing hunger, Mrs. Baird's recently announced the donation of half a million loaves of bread to Texas food banks.

The generous program has garnered media attention in Tyler, Dallas, San Angelo, Midland, El Paso, San Antonio, Amarillo, Lubbock, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Austin, College Station & Waco.

The effort is about more than charity.

"It's not just about giving away food," said Ellen Quiros, Mrs. Baird's Brand Manager. "We want to educate people about how they can help alleviate hunger in their communities and to mobilize our associates."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hunger Invades the Texas Middle Class

Today the Houston Chronicle printed an interview with Amy Ragan, executive director of the End Hunger Network. Ragan points out that there are approximately 800,000 food insecure Houston residents, including many working families.

Ragan sees the problem getting worse, as food and fuel prices continue to squeeze Texans at every income-level. While prices continue to rise, she warns, "there are going to be more and more people accessing emergency food assistance for the first time."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dallas Food Pantries Feel the Pinch

The Dallas Morning News reports that faith-based food pantries in the Dallas area are facing record numbers of newly hungry just as donations and food supplies are starting to run dry.

"We're seeing a lot of first-time individuals – people who never thought they would need benevolence," says the pastor of one such pantry, Cornerstone Baptist Church in South Dallas. "They've lost their jobs or just can't make ends meet."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Farm Bill Faces Facts

This week's final passage of the 2008 Farm Bill brought together legislators, community members and the South Texas Food Bank to acknowledge the tough times facing many South Texans.

The bill, which increases aid to Texas via proven programs like Food Stamps and TEXCap, was celebrated as an overdue investment in the health of low-income and working families.

"These progressive changes bring government back to the table to address the question of ending hunger" in Texas, noted South Texas Food Bank Director of Public Policy JC Dwyer.