September is Hunger Awareness Month in Burnet County
EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
Pam Rodgers of the Burnet County Hunger Alliance stood before the Burnet County Commissioners Court and laid out her case for proclaiming September Hunger Awareness Month.
“Who are the hungry people in Burnet County?” she asked. “First, there are the kids.”
Rodgers pointed out that, according to school district statistics, approximately 63 percent of Marble Falls Independent School District students and 56 percent of Burnet Consolidated Independent School District students qualify for free or reduced lunches.
But it’s not just children.
“It’s our elderly,” Rodgers continued. “They are the people behind closed doors you may not see.”
And then, she added, there are our neighbors living paycheck to paycheck who might suffer an illness, a medical emergency, or another unexpected expense such as a car repair, which creates an unexpected financial burden.
“The easiest thing, sometimes, to cut out of the budget is their food,” Rodgers said.
The point is hunger, or more precisely, food insecurity is an issue in Burnet County, even though it’s not often in the forefront. Unless, Rodgers said, it’s a problem in your own life.
According to Burnet County Hunger Alliance statistics, at least 15 percent, or approximately 6,700, residents in the county are food insecure.
While hunger is a physical sensation, food insecurity is the lack of financial resources an individual or family needs to meet their food needs. It doesn’t have to be ongoing; it could happen during certain times of the year.
One reason for proclaiming September Hunger Awareness Month and September 23-29 Hunger Awareness Week is simply to educate people about the problem. The Burnet County Hunger Alliance is also working to eliminate food insecurity.
The alliance formed in 2016, bringing together a number of organizations, individuals, and churches.
Food insecurity is a year-round issue, though most people hear more about it during holiday food drives.
Rodgers pointed out that during the last Burnet County Hunger Alliance meeting, area food bank representatives told alliance members their biggest need was canned meats such as chicken or tuna. In May, the U.S. Post Office held its annual food drive, with which the alliance assisted, and filled local food pantry shelves.
“But that surplus is all gone now,” Rodgers said. “The summer was rough.”
Even as some people get free of food insecurity, others fall into it. So the need continues, Rodgers said.
Local pantries can always use donations and volunteers. She added that there are a number of free lunch and dinner programs across the county that could also use a hand.
“Go out and volunteer, help out,” Rodgers said.
And if people want to help address food insecurity in Burnet County, they can attend the monthly Burnet County Food Alliance meeting held the fourth Wednesday of the month from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 105 RR 1431 in Marble Falls.
“Hunger is a problem here in Burnet County. We may not know about it or want to know about it, but it is a problem for so many people,” Rodgers added. “And we can all do something to end it.”
The Burnet County Hunger Alliance has a list of food pantries and times they’re open broken down by city on its website.