Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Poverty Rises in West Texas

Despite their proximity to Texas' oil fields, West Texas communities are feeling the effects of the national recession, say local service providers. 

"We are seeing evidence that the economic crisis has finally hit the area," said Zack Wilson of the High Plains Food Bank in Amarillo. "A couple of car dealerships closed down, and more and more people are asking for help."

"We're seeing a lot of people who in the past wouldn't have asked for help," echoed David Weaver of the South Plains Food Bank in Lubbock. "We had a gentleman who came by a couple of weeks ago and told us 'if it wasn't for my (8-year-old) daughter I wouldn't be here.'"

These anecdotes are borne out in data from West Texas school districts, which show a surge in applications for free and reduced-price school lunches. 62% of children in the Amarillo school district are now eligible, compared to 58% just last year, according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

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