Thanksgiving is today, and for most of us that means sitting down to a meal of epic proportions that will leave us full until the next day. However, for the millions of Texans experiencing food insecurity, Thanksgiving is a reminder of the difficulty they have in getting food on the table.
According to Feeding Texas, 1 in 6 Texans, or 18%, have experienced food insecurity between 2011-2013. In terms of raw numbers, that is 4.7 million Texans who have lacked food access based on financial or other resources. That’s more people than any other state except California.
Food insecurity is a problem that leads to a cycle of difficult choices that households must make in order to cope with the lack of food. As Feeding Texas reported earlier this year, within the past year, millions of Texas families had to choose between paying for food and purchasing medical care, utilities, and transportation.
Food insecurity is fairly evenly geographically distributed throughout Texas, with counties in east Texas being the hardest hit. When it comes to major cities in Texas that are facing hunger, Dallas has the highest percentage of food insecurity, with over 20% of Dallas county residents who are food insecure. Bexar county has the lowest food insecurity rate, at just over 15%.
For those of us who are fortunate enough to not have to worry about where our next meal will come from, whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner or the rest of the year, there are a few ways to help those who need it most. Feeding Texas recommends the following:
- 1. Give. Donate what you can, but if you have a choice, give money. Cash has a longer shelf life, can be leveraged by your food bank to purchase greater amounts, and can be meted out to cover year-long needs. Contact your local food bank to make a donation of food, time, or money.
2. Speak up. Consider raising your voice to advance solutions to hunger. Creating a hunger-free Texas is possible, but only if we all work together. If you care about seeing your neighbors healthy, nourished and productive, then tell your elected officials to make hunger a priority and support their food bank.
As you sit down to dinner this Thanksgiving, be sure to give thanks for the fact that you have the ability to enjoy one of your biggest meals of the year. And be sure to remember those who cannot afford that luxury, and take the time to give to your local food bank and contact elected officials to make addressing hunger a priority.