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Abbott Touts Texas' Economic Success Amidst 13.7% Food Insecurity Rate
Governor Abbott's misplaced praises conflict with the alarming scale of food insecurity and wealth inequality in Texas.
In the State of Texas, the amount of food insecurity is alarming. With a food insecurity rate of 13.7%, equivalent to approximately 4,057,910 individuals, the scale of the problem is astounding. Food insecurity extends to the most vulnerable members of society, as 1,348,600 children in Texas are affected, accounting for an alarming child food insecurity rate of 18.1%.
The statistics also reveal disparities among different racial and ethnic groups, with 23% of Black Texans and 16% of Hispanics experiencing hunger.
Knowing these statistics, you might be stunned to learn that Governor Greg Abbott called Texas a “premier economic destination.”
With over 4 million Texans living in hunger, it’s evident that Abbott’s praises ring hollow and fail to acknowledge the staggering extent of food insecurity in the state.
Why is the food insecurity rate so high in Texas?
If you notice the map above, the food insecurity rate is higher in all Republican states, but according to the USDA, drivers of food insecurity include unemployment and poverty. The unemployment rate in Texas is 4.1%, so the high food insecurity rate likely coincides with poverty.
According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate in Texas is 14.2%. In numbers, that’s 4,264,200 people. For comparison, the national poverty rate is 11.6%, which means that poverty in Texas is three points higher than the national average.
Note: Abbott also bragged about Texas’ GDP. In 2022, the GDP of Texas was $1.88 trillion. Yes, trillion.
The Lone Star State ranked 48th on the “Best States to Work Index” from Oxfam America, a nonprofit focused on ending poverty. This means Texas is among the worst states in the country for workers.
Texas is one of 13 states still paying the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
In this last session of the Texas Legislature, fourteen separate bills were introduced to increase the minimum wage or allow cities to set their own minimum wage. Republicans blocked every single one of them.
In Congress this year, progressive legislators have introduced bills to re-implement the child-tax credit, give free lunches to school children, and implement universal pre-k. However, since Republicans have control of Congress, they are dead on arrival.
Republicans are exacerbating wealth inequality in Texas.
Texas is home to 73 billionaires and 99 Fortune 1,000 companies. Texas is among one of the states with the highest income inequality. Texas’ wealthiest households have dramatically bigger incomes than Texas’ poorest households.
Under Republican rule, the rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten poorer.
Each year billionaires and millionaires pour mountains of cash into Republican elections in Texas to ensure they hoard more wealth while starving those who need it most.
The obscene amount of money that goes into Republican elections in Texas to make sure GOP legislators don’t raise the minimum wage or feed hungry children would blow your mind. Despite the state’s wealth, most Texans are struggling to make ends meet, with high poverty and food insecurity rates.
As long as Republicans have a tight grip on the government, they will maintain the status quo and prevent meaningful changes like raising the minimum wage or addressing hunger. The stark disparities in Texas will continue.
There are 2.7 million hungry adults in Texas living with food insecurity. Imagine if they all voted to change that. Of course, that would mean voting for Democrats, but half will probably say their vote doesn’t matter, and the other half can’t afford to take time off work to vote.
In Texas, we have to do better in educating people about civics and how politicians impact every single aspect of their lives. Otherwise, the stark disparities in Texas will persist, and we risk hurtling toward a dystopian society while the privileged few continue to thrive.
In Texas, we can vote our way out of this.
During the last election, 9+ million people did not vote. If even half of those who stayed home chose to make it to the polls instead, we would have been able to raise the minimum wage, we would have been able to expand healthcare, and we could have addressed the hungry children of Texas.
We all have to do better in making sure our friends and loved ones make it to the polls. Too much is at stake. I believe in a better Texas and a better world. Do you?