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How Gov. Abbott's agriculture funding cut impacts the Coastal Bend

For the Coastal Bend Food Bank -- that means a loss of $30,000.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In Texas, food banks across the state are urging lawmakers to reconsider cutting off critical funding as we head into the holiday season.

In May Governor Greg Abbott issued an order directing all state agencies to cut their budgets by five percent.

Governor Abbott stating in a letter "There is significant economic uncertainty not only in this state but across the country and around the world. It will take months until we know the true extent of the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and how combating this virus will impact state finances. to prepare for this economic shock, we must take action today so that the state can continue providing the essential services that Texans expect."

One of those agencies was the Texas Department of Agriculture. They decided that instead of the five percent requested, they would make a ten percent cut.

TDA Commissioner Sid Miller stating,
"State government needs to tighten its belt along with everyone else. While TDA is already a lean, efficient agency that pays its own way, I’ve directed my staff to cut 10% without affecting our farmers and ranchers or our rural communities."

Part of that ten percent cut was aimed directly at a nearly $2 million 'Surplus Agricultural Product Grant' the agency administers to food banks across Texas, including the Coastal Bend Food Bank.

“A grant that the food banks receive money in order to access and purchase produce,” said Bea Hanson with the Coastal Bend Food Bank.

The grant is a "win-win" as farmers are paid for the produce not sold in stores, and families in the coastal bend are able to receive nutritious food. For the Coastal Bend Food Bank, that means a loss of $30,000.

According to Feeding America, our food banks can buy between five and ten meals with a single dollar through programs similar to the 'Surplus Agricultural Grant.' So, while $30,000 may not seem like a lot, it amounts to 240,000 pounds of produce.

“The 30 thousand dollars that we will lose will equal about 240- thousand pounds of produce,” stated Hanson. “We are really going to be struggling.”

Although Hanson says she understands Governor Abbott made the decision in hopes of recovering from the pandemic economic fallout.

“Everybody’s in the same boat unfortunately but feeding and eating is something that people cannot do without,” said Hanson.

Hanson says 30-percent of the people being served by the non-profit are turning to them for first time help. Hanson added this is a problem that may only be compounded as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach.

Food banks across the state are hoping the Texas Department of Agriculture will reverse the move and reinstate the funds.

If you would like to help, you can contact your local lawmakers or make a donation to the coastal bend food bank.

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