By David Braughton
When hardship strikes, those hurt most are those least able to cope. These include single-parent families headed by moms, front-line service works, people out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic, immigrants, people of color, and the homeless. The savage cold that ripped through Texas on Valentine’s Day and tortured the State for a week afterwards affected nearly everyone, but no one as much as persons already struggling to survive. For many low income and marginalized residents, rolling blackouts, frozen pipes, and boil water advisories were just the beginning.
Not only did the power outage cause the food people had stored in their freezer or refrigerator to go bad, but additionally they faced bare grocery shelves that had not been stocked for days. Highways became impassable and fruits and vegetables in the Rio Grande Valley were frozen over. The Texas Citrus Association predicts that out of a projected 230,000 tons of grapefruit, 138,000 tons will be lost. The same fate faces other food items. The valley grows a variety of vegetables as well, much of which will have to be plowed under. Experts predict that recovery from the disruption to the supply chain could take months.
The winter storm cost millions of hourly wage earners to lose at least a week’s worth of income and, given the severe crop damage, some will have a difficult time finding work anytime soon. With food still scarce and no income, food banks and other emergency aid have become essential lifelines.
Each year, BGR devotes nearly 10% of its annual budget to emergency grants to areas of the world suffering from weather-related catastrophes. In response to the ongoing crisis in Texas, this past week BGR made an emergency grant of $5000 to Feeding Texas, the largest hunger relief organization in the state. Feeding Texas supplies 21 member food banks that help to feed over 5 million persons annually, making it uniquely equipped to respond to the recent crisis. The organization has fostered deep ties to large grocery chains like Kroger and H-E-B but reports that the catastrophic disruption to the supply chain and the devastation of many of the State’s crops present ongoing challenges that will take months to recover from.
While all of us at BGR lament the severe hunger the state’s residents are facing on account of this calamity, we are happy that we could contribute even a small amount to help alleviate hunger and ensure that recipients receive the food they need to get through this crisis.
David Braughton is the vice-chair of Buddhist Global Relief.