With the holiday season in full swing, food insecurity is a crucial topic being discussed in San Marcos. There will be people this Thanksgiving and Christmas who will go without a warm holiday meal.
According to a study by Data USA, San Marcos has over 20,000 residents below the poverty line. This means, on average, San Marcos has approximately 17,500 more residents below the poverty line than neighboring cities such as Kyle, Buda, Wimberley and Dripping Springs.
There is often a correlation between poverty and food insecurity. In Hays County, one in seven residents are food insecure.13.9 percent of the population, are food insecure and 20.6 percent of the children in Hays County are food insecure according to Hays County hunger facts.
Only 65 percent of the food-insecure population of Hays County is income-eligible for government nutrition programs like the Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program.
According to 2013’s data from Feeding America and reported by NBC 5 Dallas, the average cost per meal in Texas is $2.28 which is below the national average of $2.67 per meal. However, the state’s food insecurity rate is 3.8 percent higher than the national averageAlthough it costs less to obtain food in Texas, more Texans struggle to find adequate food compared to the rest of the country.
Food insecurity is also tied to the issue of not being able to have access to good nutrition. Texas has the eighth-highest obesity rate in the U.S. at 33.7 percent.
Diane Roberts, masters prepared board certified registered nurse practitioner, at Communicare Health Centers said over half of her patient population of predominantly hispanic descent of 5000 suffers from obesity.
“(I also get patients that are food insecure), because a lot of my patient population are laborers,” Roberts said. “Which means if they don’t work they don’t eat because they get paid cash. They get paid a very low amount and they have to prioritize what they use that money toward, which isn’t always food or healthy food.”
Roberts said people can be food insecure because they are too prideful or embarrassed to reach out for help. This behavior is usually a conditioned way of thinking, learned through many different cultures.
There are a few programs and organizations in San Marcos that help fight hunger in the community. Among these are the Hays County Food Bank and Southside Community Center.
The Southside Community Center provides services comparable to homeless shelters in San Marcos. They serve dinner every evening at 5 p.m. to anybody in need of a meal.
The Hays County Food Bank provides a platform for people to donate food. They also provide programs to help educate the community about nutrition and health.
Mallory Best, communication coordinator at the Hays County Food Bank, said the fact food insecurity in San Marcos is higher than in other places likely has to do with the mass growth the city is experiencing.Though new residents are constantly moving in, many of the older residents are still staying local.
“We have a lot of seniors that live on a fixed income,” Best said. “Therefore, they are pretty much bound by this program, unfortunately, because all they get is social security.”
Dylan Eastland, operations and facilities coordinator at the Hays County Food Bank said holiday season is one of the hardest and fastest-paced times of the year for the food bank.
“Take how many donations we get on a monthly basis, take that number and make it a daily basis or at least every other day,” Eastland said.
Keller Williams Realty partnered with The Hays County Food Bank last holiday season and this past october to fight against the food insecurity in the community. Kendra Watson, realtor at Keller Williams Realty, said she helped collect 1200 pounds of food to donate.
“I was so overwhelmed and so completely pleased with it; it was amazing,” Watson said. “I received a letter (from) a man that has been relying on the food bank to feed his family for quite some time because he is out of work at the moment.”
With food insecurity as a problem in the community donations and volunteer stations are available to anyone wanting to help.