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.
Austin is EXPENSIVE
* 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: CPPP.org, 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.