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Hunger In Texas The Topic For State Lawmakers

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CBS DFW (con't)

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - Researchers and lawmakers refer to it as Food Insecurity or availability of food in areas and one’s access to it. In Austin today lawmakers are trying to break down why there are food shortages across the state and find ways to solve the problem.

State Representatives are meeting to consult with experts on why so many Texas families don’t have enough food. The group will also toss around ideas on addressing the problem of child hunger during the summer months.

The Texas Department of Agriculture will brief the committee on their Summer Food Service Program.

“It’s about making sure that kids are not going hungry. It’s something that we work hard at the Texas Department of Agriculture to try and overcome,” Agriculture spokesman Bryan Black explained. “And we’re trying to get mayors involved with it, we’re trying to get communities involved with it.”

In the past, participation in the summer program has been low, with less than 20-percent of low-income Texas children participating.

According to the USDA, Texas is the second hungriest state in the union and leads the nation in child hunger. While the USDA provides grants for lunch programs during the school year, providing nutritional assistance to the summer months is more difficult.

“We have hungry children, but the services are there to feed these kids,” Black said. “So hopefully our legislators will see the programs and be able to bring it back to their communities as well.”

This summer, parents can dial 211 to find feeding sites in their neighborhoods.

Last year the report “Hunger by the Numbers: A Blueprint for Ending Hunger in Texas”, by the Texas Hunger Initiative and the Texas Food Bank Network, revealed that 18-percent of Texas households or some 4.2 million residents are at risk of hunger.

“We’ve been reaching out to mayors… to communities,” Black said. “We’re doing a lot more outreach than we’ve done in the past, to try to get communities to understand that ‘Look, these programs are there, you just need to access them.’”

The House Human Services and Public Health Committees is also expected to discuss federal Nutrition standards and congressional activity on the 2012 Farm Bill during the meeting.

The meetings are meant to help lawmakers decide what bills they’ll introduce next year.

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