AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Data from Feeding America‘s most recent Map the Meal Gap report showed how different races and ethnicities in the Texas Panhandle are being affected by food insecurity.

According to the report, across the Texas Panhandle, approximately 63,940 people are facing food insecurity, including 22,370 children.

“Overall in our service area, about one in seven neighbors are facing food insecurity, including one in six children,” said Tina Brohlin, director of development at the High Plains Food Bank. “The staggering part of the study showed that up to one in three of our Black neighbors are facing food insecurity, and there’s a huge disparity in how food insecurity affects our neighbors of color versus white neighbors.”

Overall, the report said:

  • 1 in 3 (29%) of Black neighbors faces food insecurity
  • 1 in 6 (18%) of Hispanic neighbors faces food insecurity
  • 1 in 13 (8%) of White (non-Hispanic) neighbors faces food insecurity.

“There are five counties where we had enough of the sample size to have data on white, Hispanic and Black neighbors, and the food insecurity rates overall. And in each of those five counties, Black neighbors faced food insecurity rates much higher than white neighbors. Hispanics faced the food insecurity rates higher than white neighbors as well. But their food insecurity rates were also well below the food insecurity rights of our Black neighbors,” she continued. “In one county, there was a percentage points difference of 33% between the food insecurity rate of our black neighbors and food insecurity rights of white neighbors.”

Those five counties include Gray, Moore, Potter, Randall, and Swisher.

In Swisher County, the overall food insecurity rate was 17.6%. The data showed 43% of Black people in that county faced food insecurity, as opposed to 24% among Hispanic people, and 10% among white people.

Brohlin said because the data in the Map the Meal Gap report is from 2020, there is still much more to learn about how people are being affected by hunger.

“The effects of inflation, the supply chain, and the skyrocketing food costs that we’re seeing will have an impact on food insecurity, and we’ll see that in the research and down the road,” Brohlin said. “But along with that, there were many programs that were put into place for COVID Emergency Relief and to help feed families, and those programs are now sunsetting or coming to an end.”

The High Plains Food Bank said that 33.7% of food insecure people in its service area exceed the income limit to qualify for SNAP benefits.

Brohlin encouraged people to read the report, look at the food insecurity map, and get involved to help community members who are going hungry.

“The more we know about the community we’re serving, and the people who are facing food insecurity, the better equipped we are to find answers in solutions. It’s not a quick, easy answer, and we’re learning as we go. But the change starts with understanding and having feeding friendly policies and making equitable access available to everybody.”

Plus, each food insecure people in the area needs an average of just $15.75 weekly to establish food security.

“It seems doable, it’s just figuring out how we get there,” Brohlin added.

The HPFB said Moore County is the most food secure county, with 1 in 10 or 10.3% of neighbors facing food insecurity, including 1 in 7 children.

The most food insecure is Cottle County, with 1 in 5 people and 1 in 4 kids facing food insecurity.

Brohlin said, “Also donate to High Plains Food Bank or another charitable food organization in your area because the work matters and there are people in our community that really need our help right now.”

For more information on food insecurity, or to view the meal gap map, visit the Feeding America website.