For those of us working to reduce the health risks associated with not having enough healthy food, the recently released 2013 Community Needs and Trends Report by United Way of Greater Austin shows how important our work is to so many of our neighbors.
This is the second year in a row Austin residents asked for help with food more than anything else. The number one call was for food stamp assistance, which grew nearly 85 percent from the previous year. When we look at five years-worth of data, the trend is even more disturbing - calls for food stamps/SNAP has grown 1828 percent from 2009 to 2013.
Public outreach about food stamps by hunger advocates as well as improvements in program support by Health and Human Services may explain why those seeking help are first asking for help with food stamps over emergency food assistance from a food pantry.
Another explanation is that too many Austin residents don’t have enough resources to support their most basic need for food.
The impact of this growing hunger crisis on our city, now the fastest growing MSA in the country, should alarm our elected officials at every level.
It is outrageous when cities like Austin are experiencing such an explosive need for nutrition assistance that programs designed to lift families out of poverty are still in Congress’ crosshairs.
If you believe that hunger is unacceptable in one of America’s most promising and fastest growing cities, we’ll need your help to make the number one call for help our city’s number one priority.