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Report: Texas tops nation in food insecurity

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Freda Ross

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(Texas News Service) Texas leads the nation in food insecurity. According to the latest "Map the Meal Gap" study, from Feeding America, nearly 5 million people in the state are hungry, up almost 3 percent from 2021.

Most people experiencing food insecurity do not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and rely on help from local food banks to make ends meet.

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Trisha Cunningham, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, said the organization serves the 13 counties with the fourth-largest area of food insecurity in the nation.

"If you look at the number of people who are food insecure in the North Texas Food Bank service area, it's equivalent to the entire population of Seattle or San Francisco, if everyone in those cities needed food," " Cunningham pointed out.

She added 40 percent of those in need are children. The three counties with the highest food insecurity rates served by the food bank are Navarro, Lamar and Hopkins.

The number of families experiencing food insecurity has continued to increase since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The Feeding America report showed close to 780,000 people in the food bank's 13-county service area need assistance. Cunningham emphasized inflation and the end of pandemic subsidies put an even bigger strain on people's budgets. She recently spoke with a young mother who needed help.

"She had two children to feed, she was working, but she needed to have some additional support," Cunningham recounted. "Coming to the food pantry has given her that buffer that she needs."

As the school year ends, she said the food bank is preparing for an increase in demand. The report showed disparities persist in who faces hunger in the food bank's service area, with Black and Hispanic families most in need.