Texas Ranks First in Nation for Food Insecurity

In a new report from the “Map the Meal” study from Feeding America, Texas has ranked No. 1 in the country for food insecurity. Furthermore, “the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are disproportionately rural.

Sometimes a free lunch at school may be the only meal a child eats in a day. In Thrive Together, Texas AFT’s latest report, we discuss the importance of free meals for students & the vital work of our school nutrition employees. Read the full report here.

Rural counties (those outside of major metropolitan areas) make up 62% of all counties but represent 87% of counties with food insecurity rates in the top 10%.” This is a huge issue, especially in Texas, as around 15% of our state (or 3.8 million people) live in rural areas.

Children make up 40% of those in need, and the issue is further perpetuated because “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.”

In a state like Texas with an abundance of wealth, no child should go hungry. These issues are even more acute during the summer when children do not have access to free meals at their schools. In a leadership failure, Texas recently rejected nearly half a billion dollars in federal aid for a summer meals program for families from lower socioeconomic households. If Texas had joined the program, qualifying families would have received $120 per child through a pre-loaded card for the three months of school summer vacation. Instead, Texas families lost out on a total of $450 million in federal dollars.

Moving forward, Texas lawmakers must prioritize providing healthy meals to students  to alleviate the financial burden on our most vulnerable families.

To read more about Texas AFT’s policy proposals, including the importance of child nutrition and access to free school meals, please read our recently released report.