Good morning! Have you had breakfast yet? That is something a growing number of Tarrant families, parents AND children, no longer ask in the morning. The Tarrant County Food Bank is serving an ever-increasing number of children, who otherwise have nothing to eat.
There is a couple in our Sunday discussion group that is greatly involved with this organization. She is in charge of obtaining the items that are auctioned off at the annual Souper Bowl. Since that event just occurred, it was a topic of conversation at our Saturday evening class social we hold once a month. Her husband, who also works with the bank, started whipping off statistics of how bad things are getting for this ONE county in this state in this nation.
Basically what he said can be found on the TAFB’s web site.
CHILD HUNGER STATISTICS
- In Tarrant Area Food Bank’s 13-county service area, nearly one-fifth (19.5 percent) of children under age 18 live in extreme poverty (below 100 percent of the federal poverty level) and thus are at high risk of hunger. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005)
- In Tarrant County, 1 in 5 children live in extreme poverty and thus are at high risk of hunger.
- In Texas, more than 1 in 5 children (22.2 percent) suffer from food insecurity or outright hunger. This is the highest rate of hunger in the nation among children under age 18. Nationally, 1 in 6 children are food insecure.*
- Among Texas children under age 5, the rate of food insecurity/hunger is closer to 1 in 4 children (23.3 percent), the fourth highest rate in the nation.*
- Of all age groups in the United States, children have the highest poverty rate (18 percent). (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007)
* Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005–2007
However, if you look at the source of these statistics you can see that the data is from 2005-2007 before the full effects of this recession began to hit. Not that these facts aren’t dire enough, Pete says that these facts are very obsolete. The numbers of new people coming to the food bank are increasing exponentially.
Tarrant County is in a major food crisis…ONE county in ONE state in the entire nation. Of course that crisis is hitting almost every county in the United States. When people altruistically decide to “feed the hungry” they only have as far as their own neighborhoods to look.
While I was still teaching, there was a fourth grade girl in the classroom next to mine. She always looked sad, but her teacher noticed that whenever they had a party to celebrate an upcoming vacation, or even a three-day weekend, this girl would look even sadder. Her teacher asked her one day what was causing such sadness. The girl broke down sobbing and finally was able to tell her teacher that she hated holidays and long weekends. To her it meant that there would be NO food for her until school resumed again and she was once more able to eat in the school cafeteria her two meals a day. She was already very thin and this was the day before the winter break. The teacher didn’t know what to do. Our conversation about this issue ended then and I never heard what, if anything, was done for that poor child.
Hunger insecurity for a child can affect that child’s entire life.
* Hunger in the United States is measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as low or very low food security, that is, “food insecurity.” Food insecurity is the inability to consistently access adequate amounts of nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Any degree of food insecurity can lead to malnutrition and chronic hunger, which threaten a person’s health. In the case of the seriously ill or the very young or very old, chronic hunger can even threaten one’s life.
That fourth grade child was extremely hunger insecure. I don’t remember when I found out about that child. It was somewhere, I believe, between 2000 and 2004 when I retired. I never knew her name. I don’t know her fate when she left fourth grade.
Fortunately, the plight of the hungry children is being relieved somewhat. TCFB initiated a backpack program to feed the children nutritious snacks over the weekend when so many would obviously go without.
The backpack program was established the year I retired. The children had food to eat on the weekend. Bank of America gave a gift. I’m assuming that perhaps they have repeated that annually.
Pete said that if the food bank is aware of other siblings too young for school, the backpack contains enough for all the children in the family.
She, above, is deciding which beans to serve with the bag of rice on her shoulder. Her full story can be seen in the link below.
The face of hunger exists all over the United States. Sometimes you may discover that it exists right in your own extended family. Open your eyes, open your hearts, and if you are able, open your wallets. If one bank can do it in one community, maybe more banks in more counties would be willing to try. Take your laptops along and show them the above video. Banks need all the positive feedback they can get these days. Ask the bank president to donate one day’s salary…what ever it takes. Hunger is real in America. Hunger is in your own family or in your own neighborhood. There is no excuse to spend that much money on platinum weddings, or to award yourself with obscene salaries and perks when so many children right here in the good ol’ USA are suffering. Namaste. Attic Annie