Research shows racial disparity in Texas hunger

(Photo / Ken Camp)

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One Texas child out of five faced hunger in 2020, and the threat of hunger was most significant for Black and Hispanic Texans, new information from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap report reveals.

Overall, the report shows the food-insecure population in Texas topped 3.7 million, with 1,395,890 children experiencing food insecurity.

While 1 in 8 Texans overall experienced food insecurity in 2020, the report shows the ratio was 1 in 14 white Texans, compared to 1 in 4 Blacks and 1 in 5 Hispanics.

“These numbers confirm that a long history of discriminatory policies have created and sustained significant disparities in hunger,” said Jamie Olson, director of policy and advocacy at Feeding Texas.

A breakdown of hunger rates in five of the state’s largest counties reveals the percentage of white Texans living in hunger in the single digits, compared to an average of 18 percent for Hispanics and 24 percent for Blacks.

Feeding America’s report on racial inequities regarding hunger and the well-being of people of color is consistent with other studies, said Irene Gallegos, director of hunger and care ministries with the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission.

For example, she pointed to U.S. Health and Human Services’ Healthy People Initiative, which sets measurable goals—such as reducing household food insecurity and hunger.

Looking at data from 2018 to 2020, white households with food insecurity decreased from 11.1 percent to 10.5 percent. However, the same study shows increased food insecurity in Black, Hispanic and Native Hawaiian populations.

“Such racial and ethnic disparities in food insecurity are racial injustices,” Gallegos said, noting racial injustice is one of the four public policy priorities for the Christian Life Commission in the upcoming Texas legislative session.

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“In addition to public policy advocacy, the CLC continues to address racial injustices in food insecurity by supporting ministries who distribute groceries, hot nutritious meals and fresh produce in many communities across Texas,” she continued.

“We are grateful for the many individuals and churches who support the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and being ‘all in’ in the fight against hunger.”

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