For months, the North Texas Food Bank and local pantries have served families experiencing food insecurity, but the groups say they expect to lose 22 million pounds of food in 2021.
Food bank Director of Government Relations Valerie Hawthorne said government programs, including the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, are ending soon.
“Unfortunately, that program is sunsetting at the end of this year, which we knew would happen, but we were hoping for a re-authorization or an extension or something because we are in the middle of a pandemic,” Hawthorne said.
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Nearly every corner of North Texas has experienced food insecurity because of COVID-19, and local food pantries have responded with near-weekly distribution events where lines of cars have stretched for miles.
“More than 80% of the food that we do distribute goes out to 200 food pantries throughout North Texas," Hawthorne said. "So our ability to support them is very critical."
She said financial support from Congress for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could help ease the strain on food banks, and the food bank has asked government officials for a 15% increase in the SNAP maximum benefit.
“If we don’t see food bank support in this next stimulus bill, we’re going to have to think of some creative solutions," Hawthorne said. "So whether that’s a new partnership that we haven’t had before, or we are just going to have to make up the difference and purchase the food ourselves."
The food bank expects it will start to see a major loss around April.
“We hope that there is some time in there that we are able to get more resources to put towards the foods that we need," Hawthorne said.
People in need of food assistance can find more information on drive-thru distributions and local food pantries on the North Texas Food Bank website.