CCSC is open and serving those impacted by Hurricane Beryl and other crises.
Connections 2024 First Quarter

Hunger: On the Rise in Houston

Late last year, the Department of Agriculture released its most recent report on food security in the United States and the results were staggering. In one year, the number of people living in food-insecure households nationally increased by 31% for all individuals and 44% for children. And Texas had the second-highest rate of food insecurity in the nation.

At CCSC, these alarming increases are reflected daily in the numbers of those seeking assistance at our two food pantries. In January and February of this year, we served 52.6% more unduplicated individuals than we did during that same period in 2023, and 35.6% of those we fed were children.

Lines are longer and forming earlier at CCSC Food Fairs held on the grounds of St. Luke’s United Methodist’s Gethsemane Church, which houses CCSC’s Emergency Services-Southwest food pantry.

“We have a pandemic again, but this time it’s a pandemic of hunger,” CCSC’s Emergency Services Program Director Karen Holloman said. “It’s a confluence of factors, including high rental prices, higher food and gas prices, and a backlog in Houston SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applications that have brought us to this point.”

That point, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the largest one-year increase in food insecure households since 2008.

More food insecurity means more people need to visit food pantries, which means more food is needed on food pantry shelves. Yet, the number of food pantries in Harris County has decreased according to United Way 2-1-1 Helpline statistics. That makes stocking CCSC’s food pantry shelves even more critical.

CCSC gets its food from a variety of places. We both receive free food and purchase discounted food from the Houston Food Bank. We also purchase food from local retailers including H-E-B, Kroger and Randalls. Unfortunately, the Food Bank and those retailers do not always have enough items available for
sale to CCSC.

That’s why community food donations are so vital to CCSC and its mission to serve those in need. By far, the majority of the food CCSC gives to struggling families comes from community donations. In 2020, during the pandemic, our community stepped up to donate $910,630.67 in nonperishable food. In 2023, we received food donations from the community that equaled $569,850.65.

As in the pandemic years, CCSC is again seeing a huge increase in families struggling to put enough food on their tables. Many visiting CCSC’s food pantries are coming for the first time. People like Elvia S., her husband and their three boys, who recently found themselves needing food assistance for the first time.

“This never happened to us before,” said Elvia, who came to CCSC in January for help with rent and food after her husband’s employer closed its doors and her son had an appendix operation that resulted in complications. The family used its savings to pay November and December rent, but by January they could not make rent or purchase enough food.

“We are so relieved to get this help,” Elvia said after receiving rent and food assistance. “Now we can breathe.” Soon after receiving help from CCSC, Elvia’s husband found work. “This made all the difference,” Elvia said. “We are so grateful.”

To get an idea of who CCSC’s food donations are serving, here are some 2023 statistics:

  • 12,131 unduplicated people were served from 5,351 households
  • 66% were first-time visitors to CCSC’s Emergency Services
  • 34% were children; 9% were seniors

And those numbers, judging by the first quarter of this year, will be even higher for 2024.

Most of CCSC’s community food donations come into our warehouse from September through December each year. March through September are traditionally the months when CCSC receives the fewest food donations. Unfortunately, those months coincide with school’s summer break, when low-income families whose school-age children are usually fed free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch are now home needing those meals provided.

“Christmas in July food drives are greatly appreciated,” Holloman said. “Families have all their children home for the summer and it takes much more money to feed them. That financial strain causes parents to seek help from CCSC.

“We are happy to work with organizations on different ways to run a successful food drive, how to market a drive, how to drop off donations or have us pick them up,” Holloman added. “This is definitely a case of many hands making light work. We want to partner with groups to make their food drives as easy and successful as possible.”

Anywhere you have a community is a great place for a food drive—your church, your place of business, your child’s scout troop, your book club. Every box, can or bag of nonperishable food makes a difference.

For more information or marketing materials on how to run a food drive benefiting CCSC’s two Emergency Services food pantries, please email CCSC Communications Manager Erin Donohue at

Together, you and CCSC can make a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors.

“I wanted to reach and help
as many people as I could; and
children, I wanted to benefi t kids.”

—Eagle Scout Wyatt Chavez
West University UMC’s Troop 266

Eagle Scout Wyatt Chavez, pictured with his grandmother
Paulette, collected about 3,000 pounds of food and $1,000
in donations for CCSC’s Emergency Services food pantries.
Feeding Hunger, Fostering Hope, Furthering Success
P.O. Box 27924, Houston,
Texas 77227
3434 Branard St,
Houston, TX 77027
Copyright © 2024 Christian Community Services Center
Website made with ❤ by Solace Media