Launched by Supt. Dr. Judi Whitis in February 2019, the Decatur ISD Snack Bag Program provides substantive snacks for high school students who might not otherwise eat anything that day. When students are hungry or worrying when they will eat next, it's more difficult for them to focus on learning. We want to ensure that no student goes hungry after school, and that every child has the opportunity to be an active learner when she or he returns to school.
Snack Packs are now available in the DHS counselors’ offices to any student in need. Plans include distributing Snack Packs to other DISD campuses in the next few months.
More than 4.65 million Texans last year—including nearly 1.9 million children—are “food insecure.” Here are other relevant facts:
- “Food insecurity” means that these people have limited or uncertain access to enough food for a healthy lifestyle.
- Texas ranks No. 2 nationally—behind California—in total number of food-insecure individuals and No. 7 in child food-insecurity rates, according to the annual Map the Meal Gap study.
- In Decatur ISD, it is estimated that as many as 60 percent of our students could be food insecure.
- A food-insecure family lacks consistent access to enough food for all household members to enjoy an active and healthy life.
- In food-insecure homes, families often cut back on groceries to pay for lodging, utilities or medicine.
- Nationally, about 49 million people—one in six Americans—experience food insecurity. That number includes 16 million children.
- Texas has an overall food-insecurity rate of 17.6 percent, compared to the national average, 15.8 percent.
- The latest data show some gradual improvement. Feeding America reported 4.77 million food-insecure Texans last year and 4.81 million the previous year.
- While the total number of food-insecure individuals has declined somewhat, the number of children in food-insecure households remains relatively steady at 1,899,310, compared to 1,909,470 last year.
- Texas has a 27.4 percent overall child food-insecurity rate, compared to the 21.4 percent national child food-insecurity rate. The child food-insecurity rate exceeds the national average in all but six Texas counties.
More About Teenagers and Food Insecurity
Times have been especially difficult for low-income families. Family poverty has increased, real wages have stagnated for low-income workers, and cash assistance has radically declined. Our last recession 10 years ago only exacerbated this hardship, causing the number of food insecure households—those without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food—to spike and remain stubbornly high years into the recovery. Nationally, within these distressed households live an estimated 6.8 million food-insecure young people ages 10 through 17, including 2.9 million with very low food security and another 4 million living in marginally food-secure households.
America’s youth are affected by food insecurity in the following ways:
- Teen food insecurity is widespread. Even in focus groups where participants had little direct experience with food insecurity, teens were aware of classmates and neighbors who regularly did not have enough to eat.
- Teens fear stigma around hunger and actively hide it. Consequently, many teens refuse to accept food or assistance in public settings or from people outside of a trusted circle of friends and family.
- Food-insecure teens strategize about how to mitigate their hunger and make food last longer for the whole family. They go over to friends’ or relatives’ houses to eat; they save their school lunch for the weekend.
- Parents try to protect teens from hunger and from bearing responsibility for providing for themselves or others. However, teens in food-insecure families routinely take on this role, going hungry so younger siblings can eat or finding ways to bring in food and money
- Teens would overwhelmingly prefer to earn money through a formal job. However, prospects for youth employment are extremely limited in most communities—particularly in those with the highest rates of poverty—and teens often cannot make enough money with odd jobs to make a dent in family food insecurity.