The percentage of households nationally that lack consistent access to food decreased last year, but food insecurity in Texas continues to outpace the national average, a recently released study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed.
At the national level, 10.2 percent of households in 2021 were considered food insecure, compared to 10.5 percent the previous year—the lowest rate of food insecurity since measurement began in 1996, according to the USDA Household Food Security Report.
Craig Gunderson, the Snee Family Endowed Chair at the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and professor of economics, pointed to the national findings as “great news.”
“In 2020, there were 38 million food-insecure Americans, which fell to 33 million in 2021,” Gunderson said. “Disparities in food insecurity also fell as rates for Hispanics and Black persons fell substantially from 2020.”
However, Gunderson added, the United States still has “a long way to go” to eliminate food insecurity, noting “33 million food-insecure Americans is still too high.”
In Texas, the prevalence of food insecurity remained essentially unchanged from 2019 to 2020 at 13.4 percent, outpacing the national average over the same period. One in seven Texans—1.5 million households—faced the threat of hunger, officials with Feeding Texas noted.
“Far too many Texans are still seeing the impact of the pandemic and food inflation on their dinner tables,” said Cecilia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas, a network of 21 regional food banks across the state.
While disparities in food insecurity fell nationally, a Feeding America study showed 1 in 4 Black Texans and 1 in 4 Hispanic Texans faced food insecurity, compared to 1 in 14 white Texans.
The Map the Meal Gap study also showed children are more likely than others to face hunger, with 1 in 5 Texas children living in food-insecure homes.
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“That’s a sad statistic, but the good news is that we have the tools to solve hunger in Texas,” Cole said. “Hunger-fighting programs like school meals are available and should be strengthened to support more equitable outcomes in our state.”
The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering helps reduce food insecurity by supporting food pantries, job training programs and economic development initiatives sponsored by churches, associations and their ministry partners.