Over three million Texans receive charitable food from a food bank or partner agency on average seven times per year, according to a study released today by Feeding Texas. A majority of these households reported making difficult tradeoffs between food and other basic needs.

“A hunger-free Texas is possible, but this study confirms that food banks can’t do it alone,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “We are no longer just an emergency food network – our clients are facing chronic needs. To break this cycle, we must do more to address the causes of hunger.”

The study, Hunger In America 2014, was coordinated by the national food bank network Feeding America and the research firms Urban Institute & Westat. Staff from Texas food banks collected survey data from October 2012 to August 2013 for the report, which represents Texas as a whole.

The study provides valuable insights into the lives of struggling Texas families. For example:

  • 71% of client households reported choosing between paying for food or medicine / medical care in the previous year.
  • 86% of client households had annual incomes below $20,000.
  • In half of client households, the primary breadwinner had held a job in the previous year. Most not working (85%) were retired, disabled or acting as a caretaker for another.

These details about the causes and consequences of hunger support a new strategic direction adopted by the food banks called “Feeding with Impact.” Under this framework, food banks are increasingly distributing food resources alongside services designed to increase health and economic security.

“By linking our hunger relief efforts with other assistance, we know we can improve the health of these families and break the cycle of poverty,” said Cole. “But this approach requires that we strengthen our partnerships with both the private and public sectors.”

Feeding Texas intends to use the results of the survey to bolster its call for additional resources from the Texas legislature, which convenes in January 2015.

Feeding Texas leads a unified effort for a hunger-free Texas. Read the full report and find your local food bank at www.feedingtexas.org.