June is such a wonderful month, with so many wonderful things taking place. The first day of summer occurs on June 21st, which I know everyone has been looking forward to! Well, maybe not the beginning of 100°+ weather, but it does typically signify the end of the school year, vacation time, the beach, the river, BBQ’s, and pretty much anything to do with being outside. It also happens to be National Fruit and Vegetables Month, but more on that in another blog. June is also a very important month when it comes to awareness. June is Hunger Awareness Month, and your local food bank wants to make you aware of the ever present need in our county.
Hunger is a very real issue across America, even in these days when our economy has improved somewhat over recent years. Food insecurity exists all over, whether you live in a big, thriving city; a rural farm community; or even in small suburbia. Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.
Did you know that 15.9% of the US population is considered to be food insecure? That’s nearly 49 million Americans! Texas has one of the highest food insecurity rates in the country at a whopping 18.3%, or nearly 5 million. Hays County has a 15.6% food insecure rate, or just a little north of 24,000 Hays County residents.
The even scarier fact is that 21.6% or almost 15.9 million of US Children are food insecure, and in Texas alone, the rate is 27.4% or almost 2 million kids. Hays County is home to nearly 9,000 food insecure children, which is a rate of 23.1%. (All statistics stated previously are courtesy of Feeding America’s study, Map the Meal Gap, 2012)
Children need healthy, nutritious food in order to grow into healthy adults. This is the time of their life when their access to food is so important, since they need it while their bodies are constantly growing and changing. During the school year, some kids qualify to receive free or reduced-cost lunches and breakfasts. For the most part of the day, they are able to acquire the nutrients they need. In the summer, it tends to be a bit more difficult for them to accomplish this. Luckily, there are some programs that are trying to combat that in our county, such as the Purple Bus Mobile Meals. The Purple Bus helps provide meals to kids in the San Marcos School District during the summer when they do not have easy access to meals. Another program we want to mention is the School Fuel Program started by the First Baptist Church of San Marcos. They provide food for the weekends during the school year to those students who qualify from Mendez Elementary and DeZavala.
Summer is also the time when our own shelves tend to run a little low. Remember, hunger knows no season, so keep up your support all year round. Hold a food/fund drive at your place of business, or even just when you are cleaning out your kitchen and pantry before going out on vacation. We appreciate every little bit!
The Hays County Food Bank has been providing assistance for their food insecure residents locally since 1984. So in honor of our support of Hunger Awareness Month, your little local green food bank is going orange. Orange is the color associated with Hunger Awareness, so wear orange and show your support in the fight to end hunger, not only in Hays County, but in the nation as well.