For the first time, Feeding Texas, a statewide network of food banks, has used census data to create a food insecurity map.
“We developed it for this current legislative session,” Celia Cole, Feeding Texas CEO, said. “So that when policymakers are looking at any kind of legislation that might affect poverty or hunger in a given area, they can see to what extent it will affect their constituents.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as “limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”
The data comes from the group’s parent organization Feeding America and the USDA. Across Houston, the map shows several dark blue spots, indicating 23 percent or more of households suffer food insecurity.
But Cole says it’s really a statewide issue.
“Hunger and food insecurity is a problem that affects every single county in the state,” she said. “It doesn’t just occur in the places that you think it would occur, such as in dense urban areas or in rural areas or along the border, where we have a high percentage of people living in poverty.”
Hunger is not just a problem for those suffering it, she said, but it also comes at an economic cost for the state and nation, in the form of higher healthcare and education costs, for example.