When we think of hunger, we often think of a third-world country where families are living in shacks with no running water or electricity. We think of families stricken by disease, war and famine. Hunger definitely resides here, but it also resides somewhere much, much closer… in your neighborhood, in your back yard.
This week during Bike Out Hunger, a team of 25 Texas Baptists amateur cyclists are pedaling mile after mile, more than 400 total, not just for the thrill of it, but to let people know that hunger is right here in Texas and that we as Christ followers need to be doing something about it.
Since you can’t do something about a problem you may not notice or know much about, let’s look at a few hunger facts about our state and nation.
- Texas ranks second highest in the nation for food insecurity.
- In Texas, 18.8 percent of the population is Food Insecure.
- Texas ranks fifth highest in the country for childhood food insecurity, with more than 1.7 million children in the state at risk of hunger.
- Nearly one in five Texans (4.41 million) are living in poverty.
- More than 6 billion dollars of private and state funds designated for hunger related programs in Texas went unused in 2010.
- Only 50% of Texans eligible for SNAP (formerly food stamps) participate in the program.
- Of the more than 2.4 million students in the state who get a free or reduced-price lunch at school, less than 1.4 million (56 percent) participate in the School Breakfast Program.
- Only 12% of the 2.8 million Texas children that qualify for free or reduced priced meals during the school year participate in the Summer Meals program.
- 14.5% of US households are food insecure (compare to 18% of Texas Households).
- 6.2 million children live in food-insecure households.
- Every SNAP dollar spent generates $1.87 in economic returns.
- 23 million Americans live in food deserts, areas of the country that lack access to healthy foods. Often gas stations, fast food restaurants, and convenience stores are the only options.