Welcome to the Feeding Texas Hunger Atlas.

This tool will help you learn about food insecurity in Texas.

To learn more about what food insecurity means for your fellow Texans, start typing a county name below or click a county on our interactive map.

Food Insecurity Rates

Map Legend

Food Insecurity ?

Low-Income residents ?

Food Insecure residents ?

of which are Low-Income residents

Available Food Resources & Unmet Needs?

Unmet Food Needs

20% Learn More

Underused Resources

45% Learn More

Maximized Resources

15% Learn More

Personal Resources

45% Learn More

Swipe left or right to navigate counties

What is food security?

"Food security" refers to a household's ability to meet its food needs without resorting to coping strategies like skipping meals, buying less or choosing between food and other necessities.

Food insecure families face these wrenching choices periodically throughout the year, often in cycles.

Food insecurity is measured by a survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What defines low-income?

Low-income Texans live in households with a total, annual income below 185% of the federal poverty line.

Why 185%? The federal poverty line was originally devised in the 1960s, when we had very different assumptions about basic household costs.

Today, most means-tested federal programs use a percentage of the poverty line to define who needs help. 185% is the most common.

What is the difference between low-income and food insecure?

Food security is closely tied to a family's income. The ability to afford food is a basic factor in determining whether a family has enough to eat.

However, not all food insecure families are low-income. Sometimes a major change in the expenses of a middle-income family (such as a serious medical diagnosis or car crash) can push these families into food insecurity.

The circle below shows what percentage of food insecure residents are also low-income.

Available Resources & Unmet Needs

This grocery bag represents the total food needed by all low-income residents in order to have three meals daily, 365 days a year.

Each section of the bag represents a different type of resource that families use to put food on the table, and the gap that occurs when these resources fall short.

Click on the "Learn More" buttons to understand what each set of resources provides, and what can be done to help local families fill the bag!

Unmet Needs

This number represents the gap between the amount of food low-income residents need, and what they can actually obtain.

This gap may present itself in a household as food insecurity, outright hunger, or poor nutrition (i.e. purchasing cheap but filling "junk" food).

Underused Resources

These resources could do more to help hungry families if outreach and access were improved.

SNAP (aka Food Stamps)

Only of income-eligible residents receive help from SNAP, also known as food stamps. As a result, $ in federal aid goes unused each year.

Local officials can bring more aid to the community by forming SNAP outreach partnerships with their regional food bank.

State and federal officials can improve access to SNAP by eliminating unnecessary paperwork, simplifying eligibility standards and continuing to modernize the program while being mindful of vulnerable populations.

School Breakfast

Only of low-income schoolchildren receive free or reduced-price breakfast each morning.

Research has shown that breakfast at school can improve academic performance, classroom behavior and general physical health in addition to fighting hunger.

School districts should consider offering free breakfast to all students funded by USDA options like Community Eligibility or Provision Two.

Summer & After-school Meals

Only of low-income children receive summer meals. An even smaller percentage of these children receive after-school meals.

Communities can increase participation in these programs by encouraging program sponsors to serve food at more sites and for longer periods of time. Local collaboratives can be formed to leverage the strengths of multiple organizations.

State and federal officials should consider streamlining the connections between these two programs, as well as broadening access by lowering 'area eligibility' thresholds and encouraging program innovation.

Maximized Resources

These food resources are at capacity in Texas. To fill the bag, these resources would need to receive more public or private funding.

Food banks - The twenty-one Texas food banks provide more than 300 million pounds of food to hungry Texans each year. These organizations could do much more if they received more funding from the Texas state legislature, more private donations, or greater support from USDA commodity programs.

WIC - This program provides a healthy, monthly "food prescription" to mothers and small children. To serve more Texans, Congress should increase WIC funding in its annual budget, and transform the program into a legal entitlement so that all who are eligible can receive help.

Meals on Wheels - These organizations could feed more seniors if they received greater private or public funding.

School lunch - This program is well-utilized and at capacity in Texas.

Personal Resources

This number represents the significant personal resources that low-income residents bring to the table, including their wages and savings.

Ideally these resources would meet and exceed the food needs of these struggling families. Public policies can make this a reality by:

- Providing meaningful connections between nutrition programs and work opportunities.
- Helping low-income families earn higher paychecks.
- Encouraging household savings for a rainy day.
- Promoting financial literacy.

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