A recent study released by Tarrant Area Food Bank and Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, states that approximately one in six Erath County residents are living without enough food and more than one in four local children are at risk of hunger.
Local food banks have also seen an increase in the number of families from all walks of life in need of food.
"We definitely have an increase of people that come to us in need of food and we understand. Times are very tough right now and we are happy to help our friends in need," said Jill Scott, director of H.O.P.E, Inc.
Scott said a common misconception of people using food banks is that they are suffering extreme poverty and unemployment.
"Most of our clients are working. Families who have previously gained independence from food banks are now returning because the cost of living has gone up," Scott said. "People use H.O.P.E. more today because unemployment is on the rise. Minimum wage jobs are not enough to feed your family anymore."
Of the 2,210 Erath County children facing hunger, 19 percent are ineligible for government assistance programs or free or reduced-price school meals because of their family's income.
In Texas, the rate of child food-insecurity is 28.2 percent (1 in 3.5). Of these 1,871,660 food-insecure children, one-third live in households with incomes high enough to disqualify them from most national nutrition assistance programs.
Food insecurity refers to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's measure of lack of access to enough nutritious food. Any degree of food insecurity can lead to malnutrition and chronic hunger.
Food pantries serving Erath County include the Basic Needs Food Pantry, First United Methodist Church, Foster's Home for Children, Green Acres Baptist Church and H.O.P.E., Inc. all located in Stephenville. The Love Basket is a food pantry in Dublin.