AUSTIN, Texas – When we gather around the family dinner table to celebrate the holidays, we give thanks for the good fortune that brings us together with loved ones, for the bountiful food we share, and for the promise and hope of the season.
In Norman Rockwell’s famous painting “Freedom from Want,” the family dinner table is a symbol of gratitude for the blessings of health and prosperity. The painting was inspired by President Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address entitled “The Four Freedoms,” which called for the resolution of broader societal needs to ensure health and prosperity for all Americans.
Texas food banks are working overtime this holiday season to ensure freedom from want for millions of our neighbors who struggle to feed their families. The holidays are a time of scarcity for many Texans. Families see their incomes stretched by children home from school, higher heating costs, and the desire to make special meals despite rising food costs.
Last year, the Feeding Texas network of twenty-one food banks distributed enough food to put more than 300 million meals on the tables of over one million Texas families. This food represented both physical nourishment and, at least temporarily, freedom from want.
We are grateful for the outpouring of community support that is helping us feed our neighbors in need this holiday season. We give thanks for your compassion and generosity. And we urge you to join us in our mission to solve the problem of hunger—for good! The holidays may come and go, but hunger remains. A job loss, car accident or health crisis can happen any time of the year, and for too many low-income Texans, this may be all that separates them from the bread line.
Our food bank clients visit one of our pantries on average seven times a year to keep enough food on the family table. These families are continually perched on the edge of their means, forcing unthinkable decisions – such as whether to buy food, pay the heating bill, or fill a prescription.
It’s not right that such want should exist in a state as wealthy as Texas, a state so blessed with agricultural abundance. So we ask two things from you:
First, donate what you can, but if you have a choice, give money. Donations of food are welcome and needed, but your food bank can leverage your dollar to purchase greater amounts of food that can be rationed to cover year-long needs.
Second, consider investing your voice as much as your money. Creating a hunger-free Texas is possible, but only if we all work together. If you care about seeing your neighbors healthy, nourished and productive, then tell your elected officials to make hunger a priority and support their Texas food banks. Our food banks rely on partnerships with government to serve our neighbors in need.
America is a place where no one ought to go hungry, and where we should all enjoy freedom from want. It is a place where we should come together and give thanks for the blessing of community, for the kindness of strangers, and for the humility that allows us to acknowledge that our good fortune depends on both.
Celia Cole is CEO of Feeding Texas.