Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Prior to the start of the pandemic, food insecurity within the United States wavered around 11%, and in Texas at 14.1%. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, surveys from social media users revealed that 15% of US households and 18% of households with children experienced food insecurity. While this number has slightly decreased due to factors like higher rates of employment, inflation has posed another challenge for Americans, and particularly Texans. With the increase in prices of gas and groceries, food access outlets such as food banks are struggling to meet the demand for food.
In response to these challenges, Austin Public Health’s Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) division organized drive-thru meal kit distributions at their clinics in 2021 and early 2022. Meal kits were distributed in the form of bags filled with fresh produce and shelf-stable items. WIC consistently distributed about 100 meal kits per event, and in an effort to reach more clients, WIC recently teamed up with the SFC Farmers’ Markets to host a similar event on a larger scale. On May 14th, WIC and SFC invited 350 mothers and children living in South Austin to take part in a meal kit distribution at the SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley. In addition to receiving a fresh, healthy meal for four, clients could receive their WIC Vouchers: $30 in vouchers or coupons for clients to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market between the months of April and October. This event brought many learning opportunities for both WIC and SFC and was a great success for the community. In a single day at the market, WIC reached three times as many families, with a total of 350 families served.