Hunger Becomes Big Problem In Texoma

Hunger Becomes Big Problem In Texoma

It's sad to say that over 50 million Americans don't know when they will eat their next meal but what's even worse is that thousands of kids in Texoma don't know either.

The ongoing rise of food prices and the number of Americans who live in poverty are just two of the reasons why about 13,000 kids in the Wichita Falls Independent School District qualify for free or reduced school lunches. That means 64% of the students are food insecure, which means once they're out of school they don't know when they'll have their next meal.

"We still think of Africa when we think about hunger and starvation. The truth of the matter is your neighbor next door or your neighbor two doors down is probably suffering from food insecurity," said Mark McKethan, the executive director of the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank.

What most people don't know is that hunger leads to even bigger problems. It's been proven that kids who are food insecure are more likely to fall behind in school. They become restless, hyperactive and they just simply can't concentrate in the classroom.

McKethan says, "If 64% of our children are suffering from food insecurity and a portion of those become developmentally challenged and they cannot rise to their full potential, what does that say about our future?"

Children also often feel embarrassed and insecure.

"Children don't want to be seen, especially older children don't want to be seen as someone taking help because it differentiates them from the rest of the school," said the executive director.

Then there's obesity. For over three decades parents have struggled to keep their kids healthy. That's because the prices of healthy foods like vegetables and fruits have gone up 40% while the prices of processed, high calorie foods have dropped the same percentage.

McKethan says, "If you're trying to fill a meal or provide calories for a meal, you're going to end up buying processed foods because you cannot afford to get the same calories from fruits and vegetables."

McKethan says there are so many more families in Texoma going hungry that in the last six years their distribution has doubled. In fact they're now serving more people than ever. There's a way you can help though. Just donate to the Food Bank.

Tanya De Jesus, Newschannel 6