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'West Texas Hunger Summit' focuses on food insecurity, lack of nutrition

The 10th anniversary of the event focused on "hunger and health" in San Angelo and beyond.
Credit: Morgan McGrath

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Across the United States, issues of food insecurity and lack of basic nutritional needs are seen in cities big and small. 

Statistically, Texas is ranked #6 in top hungriest states across the country, according to the Tom Green County Hunger Coalition. 

At such a high number, the coalition is working to address health concerns across the state and on March 2, the "West Texas Hunger Summit" was held in San Angelo for the 10 year in a row. 

The theme of this year's event was "health and hunger," featuring a wide variety of guest speakers and group participation. 

"In our world, in Texas and really in the United States, there's not really a shortage of food," Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty West Texas Regional Director Mary Herbert said. 

"It's just the way that it's distributed that is the problem and so we're trying to make it more equitable in the distribution," she added. 

The summit welcomed community members from approximately 15 different Texas counties and speakers included clinical nutritionist Francine Blinten, Shannon Medical Center Health and Wellness Coordinator Starr Long and SAISD child nutrition services assistant director Tiffani Herbert. 

Credit: Morgan McGrath

Much of the discussion was focused on food insecurity, which is a lack of access to essential nourishment. 

In fact, some 1 in 5 children and 1 in 8 adults report not having enough food and this often includes college students like those at Angelo State University. 

According to Herbert, approximately 43%-58% of ASU students deal with food insecurity and her goal is to make this less of an issue wherever she can. 

The summit gives Texas counties a chance to take what they learn and apply it to their own communities. 

"We hope that they can take these ideas and then go back," Herbert said. "It's kind of like dropping a pebble into a pond or something. You'll have those ripples come out..."

By finding ways for people to get three healthy meals everyday, food insecurity might become less of a concern. 

"We're hoping that the pebbles, the ripples continue to grow," Herbert said. 

For now, the summit tries to find new ways to help individuals in need, both in Texas and beyond.


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