Saturday , March 17 2018
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Tag Archives: food

PdN’s Institute for Healthy Living: Food Insecurity Remains a Challenge in Area

With the holidays drawing to a close and a new year virtually upon us, food insecurity and the need for donations – especially to area food banks and pantries – remains high throughout the Borderland.

The Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living (IHL), in partnership with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, is working to address food insecurity in our region.

According to a recent report by the IHL, although economic times seem to have improved since the Great Recession, many people still struggle to make ends meet.

One measure of this is food insecurity – limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.

Nationally, food insecurity has come down in the past 2 years. Data from 2014 show food insecurity in the US at 15.4%. El Paso fared better at 11%. However, if data from households with children is included, food insecurity rates in El Paso climb to 25.5%, well above the US rate of 20.9%.

Officials the Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living say “To think that more than 1 in 4 of the children living in our county does not have enough food to eat is heartbreaking, but it also means they are at greater risk of many health problems. When children live in a food insecure environment, they are more likely to be hospitalized and have a higher risk of obesity, asthma, and behavioral and social issues such as fighting, hyperactivity, anxiety, and bullying.”

“We have a unique environment here along the border,” Miriam Manon from The Food Trust says, “It is important to take into consideration the culture of the border as it relates to how people purchase and access food. The border dynamic can present challenges, but also great opportunities. We look forward to working with the IHL and other stakeholders in the region to discuss the state of access to healthy food and the role that public policy and philanthropic efforts can play in helping to address these issues.”

Manon and the Food Trust are studying the border dynamics and how they affect food access in our region

The Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living (IHL), and the PdNHF say among their outreach and assistance programs are:

  • A project in partnership with The Food Trust, a national non-profit organization that specializes in assessing the food access landscape, convening stakeholders to develop recommendations, and providing training to build local capacity to implement healthy food access programming.
  • Re-establishment of the Food Policy Council in El Paso in partnership with Margaux Dalbin from United Way and Gary Williams from El Paso Community Foundation.
  • A program called Fresh Start at Kelly Memorial Food Pantry.
  • A project called Growing Food Connections out of Doña Ana County in partnership with the Mesilla Valley Food Policy Council and La Semilla Food Center.
  • Many community-based organizations in Juárez working to provide food to food-insecure children and families including Ciudadanos Comprometidos con La Paz (CCOMPAZ), Centro de Asesoria y Promoción Juvenil (CASA), and Arbol de Vida.
  • Working with local school lunch programs to help increase participation.

A recent partnership with UTEP for the “UTEP Grand Challenge” event that challenged teams of students and faculty to “create innovative public/private policies or programs that will increase fruit and vegetable access to food insecure people.


In addition to the partnerships and outreach programs, officials say that residents can help as well.

IHL Officials suggest that, parents “encourage your children and others to participate in the school lunch program. These lunches are regulated through the USDA and provide low or no-cost nutritious meals for school children…(and) volunteer their time or give a financial donation to a local food pantry or food bank  here in El Paso or Las Cruces.

For more information about the projects and programs described here, contact the Institute for Healthy Living at

Poverty is Going Down in Texas, but Food Stamp Need Isn’t

Although incomes have been rising and poverty declining in Texas, there’s been less change in the share of households relying on food stamps, new U.S. Census data shows.

In 2015, 12.5 percent of Texas households used the program, down from 13.1 percent in 2014. The drop of about 43,000 households was less significant than the overall drops in individual and household poverty from 2014 to 2015. The disparity underscores that economic recovery has not reached all poor people and that the need for food assistance is not limited to those living in poverty, nutrition advocates and researchers said.

People facing the most dire financial circumstances are “probably the ones whose boats are last to rise,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas.

“Just the fact that people are on SNAP over the poverty line is an indicator that even over the poverty line people aren’t earning enough to feed their families,” Cole added.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides assistance to almost 1.2 million Texas households through Lone Star cards that can be used like credit cards at stores that accept food stamps.

The need for food stamps increased significantly during the 2008 economic recession. But as the economy has recovered, SNAP rolls have been slow to fall both nationally and in Texas. The share of Texas households on food stamps peaked at 14.3 percent in 2012 — up from 9.5 percent in 2008. By contrast, the share of households below the official poverty line has dropped slightly below 2008 level.

“Just having people move out of poverty isn’t necessarily moving” people out of the income eligibility range for SNAP, said state demographer Lloyd Potter.

In fact, only about half of households receiving food stamps were below the poverty level in 2015. A family of four would generally need to make $40,104 or less now to qualify for food stamps. By contrast, a family of four with two children would be classified as poor if their income is less than $24,036.

The median household income in Texas last year was $55,653 — up almost 5 percent from 2014. While the median household income for households on food stamps also increased, it was much lower: $22,488.

Additionally, some areas of the state didn’t see people move out of poverty despite overall economic gains. Roughly a third of the state’s 25 metropolitan areas actually saw their poverty rates increase in 2015, and the share of people living in poverty in more than half of the state’s metro areas surpassed the state average.

South Texas metro areas, which are predominantly Hispanic, remained among the poorest areas of the state, with poverty rates double the state figure.

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Half of the Texas households that received food stamps in 2015 were considered Hispanic households.

Overall, black and Hispanic households were far more likely to receive food stamps than white households.

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Nutrition advocates are claiming success when it comes to reducing the share of Texas households who live with “food insecurity,” meaning their access to adequate food is limited by lack of money and other resources.

In a September report looking at food security in 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed the food insecurity rate among Texas households at 15.4 percent — down from 17.2 percent the year before.

While the prevalence of food insecurity in Texas — along with 11 other states — was higher than the national average, the decline in Texas was more significant than it was nationally, said Kathy Krey, research director for the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University.

The decrease is a result of both a drop in poverty and targeted efforts to improve access to food, Krey said, pointing to increased use of a federal nutrition program and other private food resources. Among efforts to improve food access are several pieces of legislation that have increased Texas schools’ participation in summer meals and breakfast programs.

“We’re still not below or at what we saw in 2007 and some of the years before,” Krey said. “But we’re getting closer.”

Read more Tribune coverage:

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

Opinion: The Freedom of Not Having to Farm

We take our kids to school. Go to work. Maybe stop by the grocery store on the way home. Pick up supper or a few things for the family.

It’s our routine, one we’ve settled into nicely. And it’s because we don’t have to think about our food.

Just like U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently said: “Every one of us that’s not a farmer is not a farmer because we have farmers.”

That’s a lot of “farmer” in one sentence. And the powerful statement makes sense.

There aren’t many farmers among us. Less than two percent, as a matter of fact. Even more telling, 85 percent of what’s grown in our country is produced by less than one-tenth of one percent of our population.

Vilsack is right. We delegate the responsibility of feeding our families to a small percentage of this country. It’s an incredible freedom that we often take for granted.

Something’s happening, though, in this current age of mistrust.

Some folks are a little unsure about the actual practices of farming. That’s because we’re two, three and sometimes four generations removed from the farm or ranch. And getting further away every day.

But they still trust the farmer. Surveys continue to point to that fact.

The efficiencies of U.S. agriculture have given us a luxury. We don’t have to grow our own food. Someone else can. And does so safely. That’s a freedom we all should cherish.

The challenge for farmers and ranchers is finding ways to communicate their story to those distanced from the farm. Transparency is a must. Consumers demand it. Farmers are eager to share it.

And trust will grow with those relationships. We must trust the practices and tools of agriculture. Farming methods may vary, but the result is the same: Safe, affordable and abundant food, fiber and fuel.

The freedom of not having to farm is remarkable.

Author: Gary Joiner – Texas Table Top