November is Hunger and Homelessness Month
by Erika Mehlhaff
Every year in November, Americans take time to consider all they have for which to be thankful. For many families, the month is filled with gatherings of family and friends feasting and having fun together. But there are millions of people across the nation who do not have this experience each year because of hunger and homelessness.
NOVEMBER IS HUNGER & HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS MONTH
It is fitting to bring greater awareness to the issues of hunger and homelessness during this time of year, as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, so Americans recognize the scarcity of food and housing that exists for so many in our communities. During this month, people address the issues of food and housing insecurity through education, service, and advocacy events because so many are unaware of just how much these problems really impact the people around them.
LIVING BELOW THE POVERTY LINE IN TEXAS
To help people understand how significant and pervasive the problems of hunger and homelessness are in America, it is important to point out some of the very sobering statistics. About 60% of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck according to some reports, with many regularly having to choose between paying rent or buying groceries each month. Texas has 4,122,538 people living in poverty with households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the second largest number of people just behind California which has 4,733,036, according to the most recently available data from the US Census Bureau.
FOOD AND SHELTER FOR FAMILIES IN NEED
While some American families get help from the government, for the most impoverished, the struggle to keep basic needs met is still a huge burden and concern. These people live on the edge, hoping there won’t be an illness, injury, job loss, or some other circumstance that will put them on the path to poverty, and possibly result in their families dealing with hunger and homelessness. For those who end up facing this plight, there is a real need for support. The hungry and homeless can find help in their communities all year long, from food pantries and soup kitchens, temporary shelters, and other service organizations. They can get food, safe places to sleep, and other aid from these organizations, but every person deserves to live without worrying whether they’ll have to make hard choices between paying for food or housing, or both. That is why it is so important to observe Hunger and Homelessness Month: it is a time to share our compassion for community members experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, while working toward a world where the issues of hunger and homelessness affect fewer and fewer people until they are no longer issues at all.
Art From the Streets (AFTS) is an Austin, Texas-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1991 to give transient people a way to develop as artists and to use their creativity to climb out of homelessness. Purchasing artwork supports the artists directly. Donating to our program helps us to offer a free Open Studio for the homeless and those at risk.
To learn more about how AFTS encourages transient people to tap into their creativity to help themselves, check out “Art From the Streets: a documentary by Layton Blaylock.” And visit the official AFTS website to learn more about the mission of Art From the Streets and other ways you can support the artists and also promote events/sales.