(East Texas, Texas) February 2, 2010 - A landmark study released today by the East Texas Food Bank and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, reports that more than 183,000 East Texans, including 80,520 children, receive emergency food each year through the East Texas Food Bank and their partner agencies. The findings represent a 90 percent increase since reported in Hunger in America 2006.
The Hunger in America 2010 is the first research study to capture the significant connection between the recent economic downturn and an increased need for emergency food assistance. The number of children and adults in need of food as a result of experiencing food insecurity has significantly increased.
In the East Texas Food Bank’s 26 county area approximately 428,000 East Texans are at risk of hunger, that’s 1 in 4 children, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 7 seniors.
An estimated 27,500 people receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other agency served by the East Texas Food Bank.
“The East Texas Food Bank has made remarkable progress in the fight against hunger over the last four years, increasing those we serve by 90 percent,” said Jim Rice, interim executive director of the East Texas Food Bank. “However, there are still hundreds of thousands of our neighbors who are being forced to make choices between food and utilities, housing, and other basic needs which is unacceptable.”
Among the key findings in the East Texas Food Bank report:
- The East Texas Food Bank provides food assistance to approximately 183,000 East Texans every year, a 90 percent increase since the findings reported in Hunger in America 2006.
- The clients served were 44 percent children, 6 percent seniors and 50 percent adults.
- 49 percent of the client households had at least one adult working.
- 57 percent of client households report having to choose between paying their utilities and food.
- 40 percent of client households report having to choose between paying their rent/mortgage and food.
- 79 percent of households are food insecure.
- 80 percent of households with children are food insecure.
- 38 percent of households with children are facing very low food security—or hunger.
- 36 percent of client households are receiving SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, benefits.
An estimated 5.7 million people receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other agency served by one of Feeding America’s more than 200 food banks, including the East Texas Food Bank. This is a 27 percent increase over numbers reported in Hunger in America 2006, which reported that 4.5 million people were served each week.
“It is morally reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic necessities,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “These are choices that no one should have to make, but particularly households with children. Insufficient nutrition has adverse effects on the physical, behavioral and mental health, and academic performance of children. It is critical that we ensure that no child goes to bed hungry in America as they truly are our engine of economic growth and future vitality.”
The methodology incorporated into the 2010 study includes data collected from February through June, 2009. The East Texas Food Bank conducted face-to-face interviews with 344 people seeking emergency food at food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding programs, as well as interviews with 177 agencies that provide food assistance.
Nationally, Feeding America collected quantitative and qualitative feedback from 61,000 face-to-face in-depth interviews with people seeking emergency food assistance and more than 37,000 agency surveys, making this study the largest, most-comprehensive ever conducted on domestic hunger.
USDA reported in November 2009 that an estimated 49 million people, including 17 million children, are at risk of hunger in this country. Hunger In America 2010 reinforces the dramatically increasing need for food assistance in the United States.