Pho to by Lou is Du bose Food line at Star of Hope Mission, Houston significant expansion of food banks. In 1981, there was one food bank in Texas. Today, there are 21. During 1986, the 18 major food banks in the state collected and distributed over 60 million pounds of food. Distribution totals have increased exponentially, and most food banks are actively seeking, or at least thinking about, larger buildings to expand capacity even further. However, the surge in the ranks of the hungry has just about taxed private sector resources to the limit. Some food banks are beginning to turn down donations for lack of space. Food pantries and small emergency food resources that rely on food banks to provide at least some of the groceries they distribute are also finding it hard to keep up with the need. Parmer’s survey found that 48 percent of providers were unable to serve all those who came to them for help last year. A total of 58 percent of survey respondents 14 APRIL 3, 1987 and butter. However, funding for the program is so limited and erratic that distribution efforts have been seriously impaired. With the public sector unable to keep up with the huge demand for food aid, private charitable organizations have had to bridge the gap. “Our study seems to show that, in terms of emergency relief, the private sector has risen to the occasion,” said Senator Parmer. “On emergency requests and response, we have an interesting story to tell, which is that the demand has doubled, but the shortfall the unmet need has declined. We can positively say that the private sector has done a good job,” noted Parmer. The primary reason for the growth of private sector feeding efforts is the noted that they run out of food at least occasionally. The Food Bank of Corpus Christi, besides collecting and distributing food to 131 organizations in a 19-county area of South Texas, also operates a soup kitchen. “We’re feeding 660 people per day. I’ve lived in Corpus Christi for 22 years,” said Vernon Sloane, the food bank director; “and I’ve never seen anything this bad in my life. This oil business is just killing us.” L. EGISLATION is being considered at both federal and state levels to provide increased relief to the hungry. On March 5 the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $500 million aid package to help the homeless. House Resolution 558 in The bill also established a state-county emergency nutrition effort and mandated that emergency food stamps be given to needy households without a delay of more than one day. The Omnibus Hunger Act has provided some significant help for the hungry, but , the numbers of people in need continue to seriously outstrip available resources. For example, state money has helped expand the WIC program into some 30 previously unserved counties and increase the caseload levels in more than a dozen others. Yet there are still more than 50 Texas counties without WIC services \(about 60 percent of all counties in the levels remain disturbingly low. Although over 10,500 homebound elderly persons benefited from the antihunger program in 1986, the number of persons who could be aided by such services is continuing to grow faster than the number of meals provided. A total of 26,000 seniors were in need of homedelivered meals at the beginning of fiscal year 1986 when the hunger bill was implemented; the Texas Department on Aging predicts that figure will increase to 33,600 next year. Even the most helpful aspects of the state’s efforts have not come without some trade-offs. One-day expedited service in the food stamp program allowed the state to provide immediate assistance to over 142,000 households in the 1986 fiscal year. But since there has been no increase in staff for the last 18 months, the expedited service provision has caused workers to be pulled off regular cases. As a result, although food stamp applicants are supposed to have eligibility and benefits determined within 30 days, it often takes longer than’ that. The major elements of the Hunger Act are already written into law, and the key question that the 70th legislature must answer is how broadly will those existing efforts continue to be supported. Tentatively, committees have already I recommended $11 million for WIC for the 1988-89 biennium \(up from $7 Emergency Nutrition and Temporary that provides shelter and utility assistance as well as food aid. ENTERP is presently funded at $2.5 million for two years. No authorizing bill needs to go through the legislative process, so Parmer will “work behind the scenes in the appropriative process.” On the Senate side, Parmer said he feels that he can effectively “work to get additional funding through the Lieutenant cludes provisions to make the food stamp program more accessible to the homeless and to increase the amount of surplus food for needy families. The Hunger Relief Act of 1986, which proposed to expand funding for food stamps, elderly nutrition, WIC, and other child nutrition programs, is expected to be re-introduced in Congress in the near future. The bill, though it has a potential price tag of $1 billion, could significantly alleviate hunger problems around the nation. In the Texas legislature, the key hunger-related issue, is continuation of provisions of the Omnibus Hunger Act of 1985. The act, which appropriated $11.5 million in state funds for food assistance during the 1986-87 biennium, marked the first time that the state addressed hunger needs. State funds were allocated to supplement federal dollars for the WIC program and for home-delivered meals for the elderly.
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