Three Million Texans Visited a Soup Kitchen or Food Pantry in 2009

Food Banks Release New Data Showing 45% Increase in Need; 1.2 Million Children Fed
Three million Texans – or one in eight – including 1.2 million children were forced to visit a soup kitchen or food pantry to feed themselves in 2009, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Texas Food Bank Network (TFBN), the national organization Feeding America and the research firm Mathematica. The study revealed a 45% total increase in demand for charitable food over the previous five years, and an 85% increase in clients under the age of eighteen. 260,000 senior citizens were also among those served in 2009. “The pressure on private charity has become too great,” said TFBN State Director Barbara Anderson. “We need real solutions, and public investment to address this growing problem.” The study comes on the heels of last week’s announcement of new polling data showing that nearly 21% of Texans had trouble feeding themselves or their families in 2009. Among those served by the state’s charitable food providers, the hungry were found to be getting hungrier. 53% of clients reported being forced to choose between paying for food or paying their utilities in the previous year. 42% reported choosing between paying for food or rent, and 37% reported choosing between purchasing food or needed medication. All were increases over the previous survey. Despite such a deep and growing need, only 31% of clients at charitable food providers reported receiving SNAP (food stamps) benefits, and only 12% of families with children reported receiving summer meals for their children. Advocates pointed out the need for reform in these programs to make them more accessible. “The Food Banks are proud to be part of the solution in Texas, but we can’t do it by ourselves – the need has become too great,” said JC Dwyer, State Policy Coordinator for TFBN. “The public structures in which we have all invested need to be made more accessible.” The new data also disproved some common myths about Texans who need assistance. 84% of clients were found to be U.S. citizens, 43% of client households had at least one working adult, and client demographics were found to include families from all ethnic backgrounds. TFBN provides a unified voice among nineteen food banks serving every county in Texas in support of a common mission to end hunger. The full report is available at EndHungerinTex.org.