Study: 1 in 5 Don't Have Access to Enough Food in Houston

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

It's really amazing to think that in a city that has become so renowned for its restaurant scene, nearly 20 percent of the population doesn't have consistent access to food. But a new study from Feeding America found that to be the case. Even worse, in 18 southeast Texas counties, one-third of children who deal with hunger every day are not eligible for government programs like school lunches, breakfasts, food stamps or WIC.

Feeding America's "Map the Meal Gap" study estimated the rate of "food insecurity" for both the general population and specifically for children under the age of 18. "We are particularly concerned about children who are undernourished. A child who does not receive adequate nutrition may experience behavioral problems, have difficulty concentrating in school and has an increased risk of medical problems," Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois and lead researcher of the study, said in a release.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 50 million people in America are food insecure, meaning they struggle with knowing where meals will come from. More than 1 million of those are in the counties served by the Houston Food Bank.

"This study finds that there is a more than $462 million shortfall in weekly food budgets that would provide the food necessary to keep Texans in the southeast region from being food insecure," Brian Greene, president/CEO of Houston Food Bank, said in a release. "These numbers -- especially the statistics about children -- should be a wake-up call to our government leaders that we can and should do better."

The good news for our area is that the study found the average cost of a meal here is about 15 cents lower than the national average ($2.52 as compared to $2.67). However, the amount of money people served by the Houston Food Bank who are currently food insecure would need to feed themselves and their families is over $472 million annually.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.