There is a growing hunger problem in Houston. Throughout the pandemic thousands of people have lined up in their cars for food distribution at NRG stadium. Houstonians from all walks of life, young, old, families, others showing up by themselves, all waiting for their turn.
While millions of people have managed to pave through the hardships of the pandemic, Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger-relief organization, predicts the impact of the virus could mean over 54 million people facing food insecurity.
The Washington Post reported more than 1 in 5 adults in the Bayou City have experienced hunger insecurity recently. Also 3 in 10 adults in households with children are a part of the hunger surge in Houston.
This past Thanksgiving saw the greatest number of people in need of food assistance since the Great Depression.
This year, for many Houston families, turkey for Thanksgiving came from Houston’s NRG Stadium food distribution, which provided 7,600 vehicles with groceries.
After a COVID-19 outbreak the annual Thanksgiving Day parade was canceled, and the city held a food distribution event with the funds that would have provided floats. Instead it became an event “based on people’s needs” the Houston Chronicle reported.
Hundreds of thousands of families are in need, Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank told the Houston Chronicle in November.
At the time, Greene said Houston’s hunger crisis won’t be over after Thanksgiving.
It’s not just the lines that draw concern, it is the supply of food.
“We have seen some longer lines at food distributions lately, but it is too early to tell if this is a trend. Food supply is getting much harder as the extra purchases USDA has been doing are coming to an end. If nothing is done, we are going to have serious problems meeting demand starting in January,” Brian Greene, president and CEO of Houston Food Bank, said on Tuesday.
Greene said the Houston Food Bank is currently distributing about 800,000 pounds of food per day. “That is double our distribution at the same time last year, and down slightly from a high of 1 million pounds per day just earlier in the pandemic. Unfortunately, we anticipate this elevated rate going well into 2021,” he added.
Many food distribution tents across Houston were packed for Thanksgiving giveaways, and some food distribution locations in Houston also gave out cleaning supplies and essential hygiene kits.
As the end of 2020 nears it means federal relief programs expiring or ending, more people without the food they need, and more uncertainty for individuals and families who have relied upon relief programs to keep basic needs met.
Before the pandemic, the weekly household food spending per person was $50 dollars, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. An amount that is a stretch for those who are unemployed or facing their hours cut back because of the pandemic.
While hunger is impacting everyone, the Washington Post reported that Black U.S. households have recently experienced hunger insecurity nearly twice the rate faced by all American adults and more than two-and-a-half times the rate for White Americans.
Jeremy K. Everett, executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty in Waco, told the Washington Post that hunger has increased because of the pandemic and also “the unpredictable government response.”
Want to help?
The Houston Food Bank posted on Twitter the generous donations for #GivingTuesday.