In December 2006, the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported a dismal picture of growing hunger among low-income, working families in America and reported a dramatic decrease in 2006 in the ability of most of the nation’s cities to meet these basic needs. The Mayor’s survey found that in nearly all of the U.S. cities examined, requests for emergency food assistance increased. In the 13-county service area of the Food Bank of West Central Texas, requests for emergency food are also increasing at an alarming rate — over 15% in early 2008.
According to the U.S. Census, here in the United States, 37 million people — one out of seven Americans — are living in poverty. That is over 2 million more than last year and 3 million more than two years ago. Of the impoverished and consequently food insecure people in the U.S., 13 million are children and 3.6 million are seniors.
America’s Second Harvest (Feeding America) — the Nation’s Food Bank Network, released a highly respected study last year showing that U.S. Food Banks serve more than 25 million people annually. This was an increase of two million people, or 8%, over the number last reported in 2001. Here at home in the Big Country, your Food Bank provides emergency food boxes to over 9,000 families each month!
In the Food Bank’s 13-county service area, approximately 50,000 people live in poverty and too often miss meals or experience hunger. Tens of thousands of working families live slightly better at income rates that are still labeled low-income. It is these people in poverty and those who live just above poverty who need emergency food from the Food Bank of West Central Texas.
The day-to-day existence and struggles of the 9,000+ families who receive emergency food each month from pantries and others who eat meals at soup kitchens are often heartbreaking and usually hidden. The FBWCT’s service area includes low-income, working families; impoverished senior citizens; and thousands of poor children who too often miss meals.
The Board, staff, and volunteers of the Food Bank are particularly concerned by the increasing problems of childhood and senior hunger. Since nutrition affects a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development, children who do not get the nutritious food their bodies need are more likely to have problems learning, growing, and interacting. Hunger experienced by seniors can also have a lasting and life-altering effect. Studies indicate that insufficient nutrient intake by seniors compromises the effectiveness of prescription drugs and retards physician prescribed medical treatment, thereby reducing the quality and longevity of life.