Cy-Fair Edition | October 2020

Cypress Ass i stance Mini str i es Pandemi c impact: 11202Humeister Road, Houston • 2819557684 people served sinceMarch than in an average year 66% m o r e


Houston Food Bank


Cy-Fa i r I SD

Cy-Fa i r Help ing Hands

Pandemi c impact: 150% in pounds of food served daily i n c r e a s e

Pandemi c impact: 20,200

1 MmIiLlLlIiOoNn c u r b s i d e m e a l s Pandemi c impact:

Pandemi c impact:

7520CherryParkDrive, Ste. B, Houston 2818581222 • www.cyfair families served this August than in February 200% M o r e

m e a l s

distributed this spring and summer

distributed from March-June

535 Portwall St., Houston 8323699390

12715 Telge Road, Cypress 7134664673

Various locations 2818974000

Nonprots step up Federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutri- tion Assistance Program can help oset the cost of groceries for low-income families. But according to Feeding Texas, the program covers only about $1.26 of the $2.66 it costs to purchase a nutritious meal at the average Cy-Fair grocery store. Community orga- nizations can help families ll the gap. Cy-Hope has helped host 26 distribution events in recent months. Zelenka said 105,000 households were given more than 6 million pounds of food. Cypress Assistance Ministries fed about 67%more people from March to September than it would in a typical year, Ryan said. Patricia Hudson, the executive director of com- munity outreach for Cy-Fair Helping Hands, said the number of families frequenting its food pantry has tripled since early 2020. Individuals come from a range of ages, income levels and ethnic back- grounds, but many are recently unemployed. “The phone is ringing constantly with people ask- ing for help, and it’s gone from just food to, ‘Can you help pay our bills?’” Hudson said. At the same time that need is increasing, the num- ber of volunteers is on the decline. “We need businesses, organizations and churches to hold food drives, people to volunteer and to write checks,” Ryan said. “We’re coming up on the holi- days, and there’s always an increase in [need].”

All better. A poor diet is a common consequence of food insecurity. Lander saidmany clients at the food bank deal with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. When people do not know where their next meal is coming from, they tend to choose high-calorie, high-fat items to feel satiated, and an infrequency “For some, that means an intermittent bout of hunger toward the end of the month when funds are low,” Cole said. “For others, it’s a constant state of hunger and reduced access to food.” At Cypress Assistance Ministries, Director of Development Janet Ryan said apart from the coro- navirus crisis, the number of people needing assistance increases every year. This includes the percentage of Cy-Fair ISD students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals, which was 54.2% in 2019-20. Lander said she believes the food bank has not yet seen its peak of pandemic-related need due to con- tinuous layos and potential evictions that could result in an uptick in homelessness. In addition to skyrocketing unemployment rates and wage losses, the cost of everyday grocery items has also gone up this year. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, meat prices nationally have grown 12.3%, and the prices of fresh fruits and vege- tables increased by 3.3% from January to June. “The current situation that has left so many peo- ple needing help truly is not one that anyone could have projected or planned for, and people are really trying hard,” Ryan said. Eects of food insecurity

of meals also causes the body to store fat, she said. “COVID-19 denitely showedmost people weren’t cooking at home—it’s somucheasier todrive through and grab something at a low amount of money for a household that’s already struggling than to go to the store and buy a complete meal with fruits, veggies and grains,” Lander said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food-insecure adults in Harris County are likely to spend $2,205 more annually on health care than their food-secure neighbors. Ocials said children in particular who face food insecurity often struggle academically andwith feel- ings of isolation. About 1 in 5 children in the Houston Food Bank’s service area came from food-insecure households before the pandemic, Lander said. The food bank has partnered with local nonprot Cy-Hope since 2011 to send students home with food over the weekend. Executive Director Lynda Zelenka said these children would otherwise go hungry without access to school breakfasts and lunches. “When you think about being a child and your stomach’s growling, your focus is on, ‘Where’s my next meal going to come from?’” Zelenka said. “When they feel secure about being fed, … that gives them the sustenance to focus on their schoolwork and to focus on other things.” CFISD distributed more than 1 million free curb- side meals for students while campuses were closed this spring and summer. Ocials are partnering with the USDA to continue oering free on-campus and curbside meals to all students regardless of nancial need through the end of 2020.

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