In Texas, 18.4 percent of households (or one in five) were hungry or at risk of hunger between 2010 and 2012, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report released Tuesday. This rate was nearly four percentage points higher than the national rate and statistically unchanged from the prior three-year period. Among surveyed households, Texas had the third-highest rate of ‘food insecurity,’ the term USDA uses to describe an inability to consistently afford enough food.

“These stark numbers should remind us of our responsibility as a state and nation to fight hunger,” said Celia Cole, CEO of the Texas Food Bank Network (TFBN). “This is certainly not the time to shrink from that responsibility.”

While the number of hungry Texans grows, Congress is debating a farm bill that could slash funding for nutrition programs like SNAP (aka food stamps) by up to $40 billion. TFBN estimates that one House proposal would result in up to 171,000 Texans losing access to benefits entirely. Other rule changes would make it harder for some to get help while unfairly denying assistance to others.

More than four million Texans received assistance from SNAP in an average month in 2012. The majority of those recipients were children, the elderly and Texans with disabilities.

“Programs like SNAP are the backbone of our nation’s response to food insecurity,” said Cole. “Food banks and other private charities are already struggling to fill the gaps. Congress should not turn its back on struggling families in their time of need.”

A fuller explanation of the term ‘food insecurity’ can be found at TFBN.org/food-insecurity.

The Texas Food Bank Network provides a unified voice among food banks in support of their common mission to end hunger in Texas. Learn more at TFBN.org.