AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Announced today, the High Plains Food Bank has joined a statewide coalition of advocates calling for the reversal of recent cuts to state food bank funding. If not stopped, said the Bank, these cuts will reduce food distribution to hungry Texans by nearly twenty million pounds.
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.
“Locally, this proposed cut could affect our distribution productivity at the High Plains Food Bank. In a normal year, half of our produce comes from this grant, which is about half a million pounds per year. In addition, this grant covers the cost of shipping incurred from having produce brought up from South Texas. We would have to find other sources to cover that cost,” says Zack Wilson, HPFB Executive Director.
The High Plains Food Bank said that 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 insecurity in Texas is reported by the Bank to have 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.
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