Photo courtesy El Pasoans Fighting Hunger
On Wednesday, officials with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank announced that they had joined a statewide coalition of advocates calling for the reversal of recent cuts to state food bank funding.
Officials say if not stopped, these cuts will reduce food distribution to hungry Texans by nearly twenty million pounds.
“Every day, the team at EPFH sees with our own eyes the level of need there is and health experts estimate that this situation will continue to take its toll on communities across the state and the nation for many more months to come. Any and all resources that provide healthy foods to Texas families should be strengthened and increased, not weakened and reduced,” said Susan Goodell, CEO of El Pasoans Fighting Hunger. “This is really the worst time for a cut like this to a program that has proven itself to be win-win for food banks, farmers, and the families who rely on whole, nutritious food it delivers to them.”
The program under consideration, known as the Surplus Agricultural Products Grant, allows food banks to procure fresh produce from Texas farmers that would otherwise go to waste.
Since 2001, the Surplus Agricultural Products Grant has supported a cost-effective strategy to fight hunger, improve health, and reduce food waste in Texas. The program is overseen by the Texas Department of Agriculture, which cut the program earlier this year on instructions from the Governor’s office to find savings.
“With more Texans at risk of hunger than ever before, this is not the time to be cutting a critical source of healthy, fresh produce for our community,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas, the statewide network of food banks.
Food bank officials added that food insecurity in Texas jumped from 13% to 29% following the arrival of COVID-19. Access to healthy food is a key social determinant of health. Research shows that food insecurity leads to diet-related illness and is linked to many adverse health effects.