According to the data, 17 percent of all Texans live below the federal poverty guideline -- a number that includes 1,774,000 children, up from last year's figures. (In all but two states, the poverty line for a family of four is $22,050.) And that, says JC Dwyer, state policy director of the Fort Worth-based Texas Food Bank Network, is just unacceptable: "If these numbers don't convey a sense of urgency, I don't know what will," Dwyer says in a missive sent Unfair Park's way this morning. Dwyer's pushing for Congress to pass the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, which expires at month's end. From the release:
In 2009, the poverty line for a family of four in Texas was $22,050. Research has shown that growing up in persistent poverty poses high risks to child health and development, particularly when children are faced with malnutrition.
The legislation under debate would strengthen the nation's most successful child nutrition programs, including school meals, summer meals and after-school snacks. However, advocates are concerned that legislators may try to offset the cost of improvements by cutting other programs for the poor, notably SNAP (aka food stamps).
"Clearly, now is not the time to divest in the institutions we've created to address these problems," said Dwyer, referencing both federal and state programs. "We need them now more than ever."