Panhandle food security levels lower, but remain historically hi - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Panhandle food security levels lower, but remain historically high

Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Hunger insecurity in the Panhandle remains historically high, but a new national study shows fewer people in our area are now battling hunger.

According to "Map the Meal Gap," 15.4% of our area's population is food insecure - that's one out of every seven people, and 25% of children.
That number is down from over 16 percent last year, but these levels are still historically high.

Five of the highest food insecure counties are located along the highway 287 corridor, including Childress, Cottle, Donley, Hall, and Hardeman counties, where agriculture is the main industry.

This data is based off information from 2014.

The High Plains Food Bank donated 7.1 million pounds of food in 2015, but that annual amount would need to double to satisfy everyone in the Panhandle who needs help.

"About one in seven people in our area suffer from truly making choices between, 'do I pay all the utility bills? Or do we have enough money for food for everyone in the household this month,'" said Emily Bell, Communications and Marketing Manager for the High Plains Food Bank

One of the people who has had to make decisions like this is local veteran Lincoln Blakeney.

"When you have to literally measure cups of rice to see if you're going to have enough until you get paid or until you can get more food, that was literally the point I was at," said Blakeney. "There are many, many resources; I was just embarrassed. I was way too embarrassed to say, 'hey, I need help.'"

Blakeney became a volunteer at Helping Hands Food Pantry, and he's no longer embarrassed to ask for help.

With the pantry's help, he has been able to get back up on his feet.

"Hopefully I'll be going back to college," said Blakeney. "I have a place to stay. I don't have to worry about food. If I do need help, I can get some items at the pantry. I am a client here also."

What you can do to help is donate food, money or time - because hunger does not take a vacation.

"I would guarantee that the people [at home] have food in their pantry that they're not going to eat and it's going to get wasted," said Kathy Marlett, Director of Helping Hands Food  Pantry. "And if they would instead just go put it in a box and label it 'food bank,' we would get it, and people would use it."

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