The North Texas Food Bank is Seeing More Need this Holiday Season
Texas is the second-most food-insecure state in the nation, and more neighbors are experiencing hunger than even at the height of the pandemic.
With sustained higher costs for everything from milk and meat to utilities and housing, Nikita Hill was struggling to purchase the groceries she needed for her three children.
A Navy veteran and Veterans Affairs Department employee, Nikita was referred to one of the North Texas Food Bank’s partner agencies, Soldiers’ Angels, and has been able to participate in a monthly food distribution that helps supplement the groceries she buys. “Groceries are my largest bill, so it’s very hard to feed your children,” says Nikita. “It gives me one less thing to worry about. It means a lot because I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it and now I feel like I have a leg up.”
Nikita is not alone. Throughout the holiday season, the North Texas Food Bank and many of its around 500 partner agencies have seen more neighbors facing hunger than at this time last year. In fact, says NTFB Chief External Affairs Officer Erica Yaeger, the food bank is now distributing over 15% more food than it did in July.
“There’s 640,000 people who are food insecure right here in our own backyard,” Yaeger told CBS Texas during a recent interview. “We hate when families have to make choices between putting food on their table, paying for housing (and) transportation. The North Texas Food Bank is trying to mitigate that choice.”
Neighbor Traci DeLaney, who also visited a Soldiers’ Angels food distribution this fall, says the gift of food is preventing her from having to make exactly that kind of choice as her budget no longer covers groceries, rent and fuel for her car.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Traci says, adding that having food provided means she has enough money to buy gas. “This is very much needed and is very much appreciated, and it definitely, definitely helps out.”
Erica points out that those who face hunger include people from every zip code in the food bank’s 13-county service area and that many of the people being served are working full-time jobs.
The increased need among neighbors also comes at a time when private support for the food bank is down.
Erica says that the food bank expects to continue distributing around 400,000 meals a day and continued support from the community is needed to sustain that level.
Nikita adds that she knows it can be difficult to ask for help, but that there’s nothing wrong with receiving assistance, especially during these challenging times.
“Everybody needs help at least once in their life and you have to take your pride aside sometimes and use the resources you need to get the jumpstart back to where you want to be,” she says. “Don’t let life beat you up.”