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September 7, 2011

Texas Hunger Report Outlines Food Insecurity Across Texas, Resources to Solve It

(IRVING, TEXAS) – The Texas Food Bank Network, Baylor University's Texas Hunger Initiative and First Choice Power today released "Hunger by the Numbers: A Blueprint for Ending Hunger in Texas." The report includes a hunger scorecard for each of the 254 counties of Texas, a state which ranks second in the nation for food insecurity. The report provides a road map with resources for funding and programs to fight at a local, statewide and national level.

"This is the first time one report measures and describes the extent of hunger and its potential solutions in each of Texas' counties," said Barbara Anderson, executive director of the Texas Food Bank Network, a coalition of the 19 food banks in Texas.

The report comes on the heels of this morning's announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that Texas has the second highest rate of hunger in the nation. According to USDA, 18.8 percent of Texas households, or one in five were at risk of hunger between 2008 and 2010.

Hunger by the Numbers: A Blueprint for Ending Hunger in Texas incorporates the newest national data on hunger made available by Feeding America, the nation's network of food banks, along with U.S. Census data and statewide data on usage of federal and state programs.

"As Texans read this report, they will learn some startling facts about the size of the hunger problem in their state, which currently ranks second worst in the nation when it comes to hunger," said Jeremy Everett, executive director of the Texas Hunger Initiative. "They also may be surprised to learn the extent of the hunger problems in their own back yards."

Hunger reaches every area of the state: 18 percent are food insecure in Harris County, home to the fourth largest city in the nation; 24 percent are food insecure in Hidalgo County, the gateway to Mexico; 16 percent are food insecure in Travis County, where state leaders meet to discuss how to combat these issues. Even Montgomery County, home to The Woodlands and some of the state's most affluent zip codes, has a food insecurity rate of 15 percent, meaning one in seven residents are at risk of hunger.

Along with compiled hunger data county-by-county, the report lists the resources available in each community to address hunger. Those resources include: SNAP (formally food stamps), free and reduced breakfast and lunch in schools, WIC and other federal programs.

First Choice Power, a retail electric provider in Texas, sponsored the report as part of its Food First™ program, which was created to fight hunger in the communities it serves.

"Take a moment to look over this insightful report and ask what you can do to fight hunger in our own backyard," said Brian Hayduk, president of First Choice Power. "We believe the greatest energy source in our state is its people. And we are convinced that an informed community will be an engaged community."

For more information and to view your county's hunger score card, visit www.firstchoicepower.com/HungerGapReport.

About the Texas Food Bank Network

The Texas Food Bank Network provides a unified voice among nineteen food banks in support of a common mission to end hunger in Texas.

About the Texas Hunger Initiative

The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) is a capacity-building collaborative project of Baylor University's School of Social Work. THI seeks to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through policy, education, community organizing, and community development. For more information, visit www.texashunger.org.

About First Choice Power

First Choice Power is an energy company committed to identifying what is most important to our customers and putting their needs first. Texas business and residential customers can depend on First Choice Power for competitive pricing and excellent customer service. First Choice Power is committed to giving back to the communities it serves through its Food First™ hunger initiative, Reduce Your Use Grants™, recycling efforts and supporting employees' community engagement. Learn more at www.FirstChoicePower.com. Keep up to date on the latest energy news and join the conversation by following us on Twitter @firstchoicepwr, Facebook facebook.com/FirstChoicePower or The Current blog, www.FirstChoicePower.com/Blog.

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