Aug 22

Hunger is Unacceptable (But Please Read This Instead of Heading to the Fridge)

Hunger is Unacceptable

When Lisa Goddard from the Capital Area Food Bank first told me that hunger was unacceptable, I kindly agreed with her and grabbed a Clif Bar to munch on. But then I realized that she was talking about the thousands of people who are on food assistance right here in Austin. Here are some statistics from the Capital Area Food Bank website that will blow your mind:

There’s More Need Than You’d Think

* Nearly one in five adults and one in four children in Texas is hungry.
* 41,000 children under the age of 18 in Travis County are confronted with food insecurity every day.
* 82% of Food Bank Partner Agency recipients are food insecure. 49% of recipients experience outright hunger. (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest)
* 61% of Austin Independent School District (AISD) students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

* 76% of households receiving assistance from CAFB Partner Agencies report incomes below the federal poverty level. (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest)
* 106,930 (12.6%) of Travis County individuals live below the Federal poverty level ($18,850 for a family of four). (Source: Austin Community Survey, 2004)
* The annual income needed for a Travis County family of four without employee sponsored health insurance to “afford” to live in the Austin area is $53,080. That’s 257% above the Federal poverty level. (Source:, The Family Budget Estimator Project)
* Austin continues to have the highest cost of living in the state of Texas, exceeding housing costs in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth.

Kids and the Elderly Are Hungry. How Messed Up is That?

* While the child poverty rate in Texas is 23.2%, for the CAFB service area, 35% of the household members receiving food are children. (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest)
* While 12.4% of Texans in poverty are elderly, only 7% of households receiving food through CAFB are elderly. (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest)

September is Hunger Action Month. Personally, I think every month should be Hunger Action Month, because there is enough food in this world for people to not go hungry and being hungry really sucks. But alas, now is the time when we show people how important this cause really is.

Lisa and a bunch of cool people in Austin are planning a Ham Up Tweetup to get food, and in particular protein, to feed the 21 Central Texas counties that CAFB helps. Follow Lisa on Twitter and at her blog for more updates on how you can help, and don’t forget to change your avatar and upload it to the Flickr group to show people that Hunger is Unacceptable.

  • Lisa Goddard

    Thanks Michelle! On behalf of the 40,000 people each week depending on the Food Bank’s services and the staff at CAFB, thank you for your leadership, creativity, and passion.

    – LisaG

    Lisa Goddards last blog post..“Hunger is Unacceptable” Photo of the Week

  • joeyTWOwheels

    Those numbers are staggering.

    It’s great to see and hear all the press for the CAFB – people bringing food donations to shows, etc. I hope they meet their goals and plan to help, too.

  • Brian Kotlyar

    Hi Michelle,

    In regards to point “* 76% of households receiving assistance from CAFB Partner Agencies report incomes below the federal poverty level.” It is interesting to note that the federal poverty level was set in the 60s and has yet to be inflation adjusted since then. Let alone any adjustments for how the American way of life has changed in the last 40 years or so.

    Anyway, the point is that it is likely that those numbers are not actually representative of how many people are “poor.” The federal definition of poverty isn’t a very good one.



  • Brian Kotlyar

    Hmm. wait a second. I didn’t say what I meant to say there. Proof reading pays… if you ever bother to do it.

    I didn’t mean to say that it wasn’t inflation adjusted (it is), but rather that the formula for calculation hasn’t been adjusted since the 60s.

  • Ed Nicholson

    Great job of not only creating (much-needed) awareness but mobilizing people to action!

  • Pingback: HAM it up: raise awareness and food donations for Central Texas —

  • Kerri Qunell

    LOVE your “HIU” pic. One of the more creative takes. Thanks for the post, and for spreading the word. – Kerri Qunell, Vice President, Communications, Capital Area Food Bank

  • David Davenport

    Thank you Michelle. The first step in creating a hunger-free community is for that community to embrace the core belief that Hunger is Unacceptable. Individually and collectively we can bring change to Austin and assist our most vulnerable neighbors.

    Its time for the quality of life that defines Austin be extended to involve more of those that call our community home. Thank you for lending your voice and efforts to this important campaign.

    David M. Davenport
    President & CEO
    Capital Area Food Bank

  • Pingback: Go Ahead and Be Awesome. Donate Time and/or Food to the Capital Area Food Bank This Saturday | Michelle's Blog

  • Ashley Goode

    Hi Michelle,

    I work for a Estilo Communications, a public relations agency in Austin who is on the team for the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan. We are responsible for creating an outreach proposal for the Environmental Justice population in Austin. I am interested in your statistic for the number of students eligible for free/reduced lunch in AISD. Would you mind sharing your source? It would be a great help!


    Ashley Goode

  • Dan Nichols

    I’m a consistent contributor to area food banks in Texas and Minnesota. I also contribute to woman’s health and family to the same degree. I have a hard time separating family planning from hunger being the skeptical curmudgeon that I am. I make it a point when contributing to social support agencies I balance two objectives…feed and reduce future need.

    I understand that many have short term need to feed those already on the planet. All too many use food banks and social support systems as regular supplemental income for their household needs to include food.