Texas Food Bank Network:
Census: 17.3% of Texans Live in Poverty
2.5% Increase in Child Poverty Demands Action, Say Advocates
New Census data released this morning revealed that 4,262,000 Texans (17.3%), including 1,774,000 children (25.6%), lived under the federal poverty line in 2009. These new numbers represent a 1.4% rise in poverty statewide, and a 2.5% jump in child poverty over the previous year.
The sharp rise in child poverty comes at a time when Congress is considering legislation, known as the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, that would feed more hungry children.
“If these numbers don’t convey a sense of urgency, I don’t know what will,” said JC Dwyer, State Policy Director of the Texas Food Bank Network. “We need Congress to act now to ensure that all our children have access to basic nutrition as they learn and grow.”
In 2009, the poverty line for a family of four in Texas was $22,050. Research has shown that growing up in persistent poverty poses high risks to child health and development, particularly when children are faced with malnutrition.
The legislation under debate would strengthen the nation’s most successful child nutrition programs, including school meals, summer meals and after-school snacks. However, advocates are concerned that legislators may try to offset the cost of improvements by cutting other programs for the poor, notably SNAP (aka food stamps).
“Clearly, now is not the time to divest in the institutions we’ve created to address these problems,” said Dwyer, referencing both federal and state programs. “We need them now more than ever.”
The Texas Food Bank Network provides a unified voice among nineteen food banks in support of a common mission to end hunger in Texas. Follow breaking news, commentary and analysis at Twitter.com/TexansVsHunger.