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Bluebonnet Lions support local food bank

San Marcos, Texas – The San Marcos Bluebonnet Lions Club is proud to support the local Food Bank by presenting them with a check to help families in need.Bluebonnet Lions President, Debra Sowards expresses, “Lions Clubs throughout the world are focused on providing for those in need, the Lions motto is “We Serve”. Through local fundraisers such as our Annual Fall Pecan Sale, the Bluebonnet Lions are able to assist organizations like the Food Bank”.

The staff at the Hays County Area Food Bank always says they help people suffering from hard times. These days more people seem to fit into that category. The recent jump in gas prices and groceries is affecting everyone. But for low income families struggling to begin with, making ends meet is getting harder and harder as prices soar.

The local Food Bank is feeling the crunch, too. Pat Tessaro, Community Relations Coordinator notes, “We have seen a 21% increase in the number of people helped from January to March in 2008 compared to the same period last year. As budgets get tighter, more people need help with food.”

The Basic Needs Coalition of Central Texas estimates that 40% of families in our area live below the “Central Texas Security Index”. This estimate is based on the Family Security Index which calculates the actual costs to live in an area, including housing, food, child care, medical, transportation, taxes and other expenses. In order to afford to live in Austin/San Marcos area, “a family of two parents and two children needs a household income of $53,080 to cover basic expenses, a figure more than double the federal guideline for poverty.” (Center for Pubic Policy Priorities, Sustainable Indicators, 2006).

The FSI is now accepted as a more accurate indicator of what defines a living wage versus federal poverty levels which measures income alone. The 2007 Federal Poverty Income Guideline is $26,650 a year for a family of four. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) 13.8% of Hays County residents live at or below the poverty level.

“Hunger is a reality for many people, “states Tessaro. “Texas has the highest rate of food insecurity of any state in the nation. One in four children and one in five adults in the Austin area are food insecure. Food insecurity is defined as the lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs due a lack of financial resources. A regular supply of nutritious food is crucial to overall health and quality of life, especially for children and seniors.”

“Many factors contribute to food insecurity,” she continues. “There is the high cost of rent in the Austin area which has rates higher than any other metropolitan area in the State. Texas has the highest number of uninsured people in the country. Elderly people choose between buying food and paying for medicines. A sick child without health insurance can mean an entire family goes hungry so they can afford to visit a doctor and pay for prescriptions.”

In 2007, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there was a 5.8% increase in food prices across the United States. According to the Associated Press, “Food costs worldwide spiked 23% from 2006 to 2007, according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization. Grains went up 42%, oils 50%, and diary 80%.” Citing dramatic changes in the global economy and freak weather conditions, the FAO projects at least more10 years of increased food prices worldwide. (Food Prices Soaring Worldwide Thanks to Freak Weather, Global Economy Changes, Associated Press, March 23, 2008)

The Hays County Area Food Bank’s mission is to feed hungry people in Hays County. Formed in 1984, staff and volunteers pick up food seven days a week and distribute it back into the community Monday through Friday. Though small in staff, the food bank has a significant impact upon the quality of life for low income people in the community. In 2007, they distributed over $850,000 of food throughout their service area at no charge. People receiving food include seniors living on a fixed income, working families with children, the sick and disabled, and people suffering from hard times.

Tessaro explains, “We help people in San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Uhland, Wimberley, and Martindale each week. We also work with local organizations that serve low-income residents of our area. Last year, the Food Bank passed along over $300,000 worth of food at no charge to social service agencies, churches, local shelters, home health agencies, schools, etc. ”

Residents in Hays County who need food can call (512)392-8300 or visit the website at www.haysfoodbank.org for information about how to get help.

“Our needs are simple,” comments Tessaro. “We need donations of food, money, and volunteers year round.” For more information about the mission and needs of the food bank, visit www.haysfoodbank.org. Additional information about the San Marcos Bluebonnet Lions and the community service they provide can be found at http:/home.centurytel.net/bluebonnetlions

From Judy Aswell
San Marcos Bluebonnet Lions

Additional Resources:

Basic Needs Coalition of Central Texas, www.basicneeds-ctx.org

Center for Public Policy Priorities, www.cppp.org

Hays County Area Food Bank, www.haysfoodbank.org