Researchers Find North Texas Kids Have Higher Risks of Poverty, Food Instability, Mental Health Problems

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A new report put out by the research advocacy group Children At Risk has compiled statistics to show that hundreds of thousands of North Texas children are living in poverty and facing food insecurity. The Future of North Texas' Children examines 10 topics affecting North Texas children, including poverty, hunger, obesity and mental health. In 2010, 29.3 percent of children in Dallas County, more than 190,000 children total, lived in families below the federal income poverty level. Across the nine counties Children At Risk examined, that number rose to more than 360,000. The results in the other categories are similarly troubling, including 20 percent food insecurity among Dallas County children.

Nationwide nearly 22 percent of children live in poverty. That's 16 million children, an increase of more than 4.5 million since 2000. In the last month there have been reports of increased child poverty rates in New Jersey and Tennessee. This week President Obama even made a rare mention of it during his nomination for the new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, saying, "We have too many kids in poverty in this country, still."

The report also looks at ways to improve current programs aimed addressing some of these problems. Take child hunger for example. The report finds that on any given day almost 68 percent of the more than 420,000 North Texas students eligible for their school breakfast program don't take advantage of it. The group is working with Dallas ISD to serve school breakfast in the classroom, a move that could ensure that an additional 86,000 students are more likely to take advantage of it. Children at Risk also worked to get a state school breakfast bill signed into law in May.

Childhood poverty is associated with behavioral, health and developmental problems. Chronic stress brought on by poverty and food instability does long-term damage to children's concentration and memory. Children living in poverty are also more than four times more likely to drop out of school.

"Public policy is a main focus for us," Jaime Hanks Meyers, the group's managing director in North Texas, told The Dallas Morning News. "We're going to struggle to meet all the needs of our kids. We have to work together in all of this. Education, obesity, hunger -- one organization cannot solve all of this."

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Perhaps it has more to do with the fact that children living in poverty often come from parents that are poorly educated, have less than pristine genetics (mental health issues, etc), and can't afford healthy food.

The way the article read you would think that the fact they are poor makes them crazy, fat, and stupid, when it's more about poor education and a family support system. Throwing money at them will not cure ignorance, sloth, and mental illness. However, a solid education, the ability to see a possibility of a better life, and having parents that are invested in their children's future would help make sure the next generation suffers less issues.

holmantx topcommenter

I thought we provided breakfast and lunches to poor kids in school?

And how can you be obese and starving?

With the MASSIVE amount of public assistance available, including all the free food a family can reasonably carry from the grocery store and consume, one can only conclude that the breakdown is occurring with the one who is in charge of the minors - the head of the household.

Let's face it.  We are throwing money out of helicopters, dropping largesse from C130 Herculeses by the gross, what's next?

A teachable moment for parents?

What parents?

We blew up the family unit, and personal responsibility a long time ago.  

RTGolden1 topcommenter

You can't end poverty by giving people money.  The money will be spent, and they'll still be in poverty.  One might even conclude that our country's economic aid programs are targeted at keeping poor people poor and dependent upon government aid, thus ensuring the votes for the politicians who treat economic aid as a sacred cow.


More food stamps, more welfare, more poverty. Must be a coincidence. 


Far too many poor Mexican kids live in North Texas. If they lived in Mexico instead, our stats would be better.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter


Yeah, things were waaaaaaaay better back in the 30's, 40's and 50's, right?

I love that documentary, "Happy Days".


@RTGolden1 Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a book in the early 1970's talking about the business of poverty where there was no incentive to eliminate poverty because then all the people helping the poor would be out of work.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

@CornyDoggy @StupidHippies And yet, it is a time proven fact.  We have thrown billions into the public 'safety net' of welfare, WIC, food stamps and social security.  All these programs were, ostensibly, intended to help lift the poor out of their circumstances.  Instead, the number of poor grows disproportionately to the population and the safety net has become a hammock.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@holmantx @TheCredibleHulk 

Well, you must excuse me for reading a bit of "Norman Rockwell" re-imagining of our collective past into your post. That aside, Raygun had a lot of great platitudes - it's the one thing he was really good at.

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