National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week | Texas ResourcesPat Fontana
The week of November 15-22 has been designated as National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week. Organizers plan this annual program for people to “come together across the country to draw attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness.” The number of people experiencing hunger and homelessness is increasing across the country and across the state as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. However, Texas resources are available for those in need of help with food and shelter.
Living Below the Poverty Level
Even before the pandemic, many Americans were facing financial difficulties, often having to choose between feeding their family, paying their rent, or taking care of their health. Today, 43.1 million Americans live below the poverty level. 549,000 are homeless on any given night and 42 million are at risk of suffering from hunger. One in five children is living in poverty in the US.
Texans in Need
Unemployment increased significantly at the start of the pandemic and has not yet returned to “normal” levels. Over 3.7 million people in Texas have filed for unemployment since the middle of March. The state reached a record high unemployment rate of 13.5 in April and, as of September, the number still hovered around 8.3 percent.
The Central Texas Food Bank, which is the largest hunger-relief charity in central Texas, has reported a 220 percent increase in the number of their first-time clients since the beginning of the pandemic. They distributed over seven million pounds of food to people in need in September alone. The number of Texans who are food insecure, unsure of where they will get their next meal, is now close to 18 percent.
Texas Resources for the Hungry
There are a number of resources for people experiencing hunger and homelessness in Texas. Hunger relief options include:
Circle of Hope. Located in Pflugerville, the organization’s mission is to “provide food, resources and hope to our neighbors in need.” Circle of Hope operates a food pantry and mobile food pantry, serving over 1,500 families every month from around the Austin area. It is currently operating a drive-thru food bank on Mondays and Fridays.
El Buen Samaritano. Connected to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and located in Austin, El Buen Samaritano serves the community through educational programs and food assistance. The organization is currently operating a drive-thru food pantry, open to all in need, and no documentation is required to receive help.
Hope Food Pantry. The Hope Food Pantry gives “hope to families in the community by providing free groceries to those struggling to make ends meet.” The nonprofit has started curbside distribution for its food pantry, allowing families to safely pick up prepackaged bags of staple food items.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes. A Christian faith-based food ministry, Mobile Loaves & Fishes operates the largest prepared food program for the homeless and working poor in Austin. The organization has served over five million meals to date, in addition to distributing clothing, hygiene products, and other life-sustaining products, without discrimination.
Save the Food Austin. Each week, this Austin-based nonprofit recovers 9,000 pounds of unused produce, baked goods, and more from grocery stores, and redistributes everything through sidewalk giveaways at community centers and low-income apartment communities. The food rescued by Save the Food Austin is perfectly edible, even though it is undesirable for stores.
Travis Heights Christian Outreach. A faith-based organization, Travis Heights Christian Outreach provides “free food and prayer support to fight hunger for those in need.” The food pantry offers food assistance to any Austin resident, regardless of religion or identity. It operates two drive-thru pantries during COVID-19.
Helping the Homeless in Texas
Several organizations provide assistance to the homeless in the Austin area as well:
Caritas of Austin. The mission of Caritas of Austin is to “prevent and end homelessness for people in Greater Austin.” The organization provides stable housing, education, job placement, and healthy food for the unhoused community. It also operates a food pantry and a community kitchen for those in need and is not religiously affiliated.
Connections. Providing a safe and secure alternative to the “streets” for homeless, abused, or at-risk youth, Connections has been helping homeless and abused children in Austin since 1981. Its Emergency Youth Shelters and Transitional Living programs provide housing, counseling, and food to the city’s highest risk youth.
Manos de Cristo. Promoting dignity and self-reliance, Manos de Cristo works to empower low-income individuals with a loving hand of assistance and without regard to age, gender, race, or religious preference. The organization provides essential healthcare, educational programs, and food assistance with a curbside pantry.
SOBER AUSTIN HAS THE RESOURCES YOU NEED DURING COVID-19
During National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and throughout the year, Sober Austin provides the resources you need. If you or your loved is struggling with hunger, homelessness, addiction, or mental health issues, and need to learn more about available resources, please browse our site to learn more about finding support in Austin. You can also contact us directly by calling 866-319-8865 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.