June is designated to acknowledge a closed-curtain issue: hunger. Here are some quick facts to help your family build awareness of the needs, along with tangible ways to address hunger in your community.
A family who lacks consistent access to enough food for all household members or cut back on groceries to pay rent, utilities, medicine, etc. is at risk for food insecurity.
Texas has the second highest number of family members at risk for hunger, and Tarrant County ranks as high as 18.1%, compared to the 15.8% national average.
There are some local challenges to consider. Nearly one fourth of GCISD’s student base is enrolled in free or reduced lunches.
Many children from these families live in what is referred to as a “food desert,” defined as not having convenient access to grocery stores for fresh product versus convenient stores.
Other barriers to consider are transportation, education, and time resources, all of which play a more critical role to a family that works stringent hours with a difficult commute.
ABOUT GRACE CLIENTS
Nearly half of all GRACE clients are the “working poor”, whose paycheck-to-paycheck cycle potentially sends families with unexpected bills into a downward spiral without intervention. This is especially true for workers who do not have paid time off and have to take a pay cut when their child gets the flu, for instance.
What’s even more alarming is that a great majority of all GRACE client households are headed by women, meaning there are many single mothers working long shifts, often facing hardships alone.
Of the 5,100 individuals GRACE serves on average each year, 44% are children.
HOW TO MEET THE NEED
The need is great, but our community has fostered many programs to alleviate the burden of food insecurity for families who have recently lost their jobs, their homes or any other financial crisis.
GRACE’s self-select Food Pantry is designed to give food to families in a way that is dignified and promotes budgeting skills. Before anything else, families seeking emergency assistance through GRACE Client Services will receive food in their cupboard and produce in their refrigerator.
Our senior population is at a severe risk for hunger, among other ailments that come from immobility, isolation and a fixed income. The Food Pantry also facilitates monthly commodities for Friends & Family program, which houses food and essential items for our local seniors.
Donations and volunteers are an ongoing need to support this effort.
The Community Garden produces an average of 1,500 pounds of fresh, organic produce yearly. Volunteers are needed to tend to the harvest on a regular basis, and help on Garden Work Days.
GRACE Grocery Giveaway is a Mobile Food Pantry that delivers kitchen staples to vulnerable neighborhoods every Friday in the summer. On average, 12,000 bags of groceries are given to families each year. Volunteers are needed to set up the marketplace for family members to collect the food.
Feed Our Kids is perhaps the most-widely known initiative, supplying over 37,500 meals to at-risk children over the summer months. Businesses, civic groups and church congregations are encouraged to sponsor meals or volunteer during the summer months.
If you feel compelled to partner with GRACE to alleviate hunger, we’ll help you find a program that’s the best fit for you. Contact Volunteer Manager Lara Hohweiler to get started, or attend our upcoming Volunteer Orientation to serve at GRACE.