Every day hundreds of families in South Texas go hungry or don’t know how or where they will get their next meal. Many are hard-working families who have difficulty making ends meet or have fallen on hard times. Those who suffer most from hunger are the children and the elderly, the most vulnerable members of our communities. A recently released study conducted for the San Antonio Food Bank (SAFB) sheds light on this growing problem in South Texas.
Last year, SAFB provided 27 million pounds of groceries to more than 400 local agencies that help those in need. About 40,000 of the people served are children under the age of 18, and among those 10,500 are younger than 5. The food bank also serves about 25,000 senior citizens. The median monthly income for families served by SAFB falls close to 65% of the poverty line. This means that these families live on only about $750 a month. They are faced with having to choose between buying groceries and paying for their mortgages, rent, and medicine.
I believe that in a country as prosperous as ours, no working family should go hungry. It is inexcusable to allow our children and senior citizens to go without food. The effects of hunger and poor nutrition are too great for them, and the long-term consequences too costly for our society.
Lack of proper nutrition contributes to serious health problems which lower the quality of life of those who are afflicted by them, and often require expensive treatment. Research has also shown that proper nutrition is critical to children’s brain development in their early years, as well as their academic achievement during their school years. A hungry child is a child who cannot learn. Without a good education, their opportunities in life are limited and they cannot reach their full potential as productive citizens. This is why I have fought to keep programs like the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) properly funded.
The leading cause of hunger is poverty, and compared to national statistics, South Texans are more likely to live at or below poverty level. I believe that to fully address hunger, we must also address the root of the problem. The only way to end hunger is to ensure that all Americans have the skills they need to earn a decent living. Education is the single most important tool in building a productive and successful life. I believe education is the best investment in the future of our communities, and it is why I have consistently fought budget cuts that threaten education. I will continue fighting to give working families the assistance and tools they need to succeed.