The less fortunate among us in Brown County ó as well as the rest of the nation ó arenít just hungry on Thanksgiving Day, or during the holiday season. Itís a problem that lives with every day of the year.

But itís during November and December when food figures so prominently into our religious and cultural celebrations that the plight of the hungry gets some attention.

Teachers can spot in an instant the children who live in families unable to put adequate quantities of nutritious food on the table. Breakfast and lunch programs during the school year, as well as for a few weeks during the summer, help with the problem. But these youngsters are on their own over weekends, holidays and much of the summer.

A study released last week by Americaís Second Harvest, the largest hunger relief organization in the nation, found that more than 13 million American children were hunger or were in families where hunger was an imminent problem. That is 18 percent of all children in the United States. Twenty states had child-hunger rates exceeding 18 percent. In 12 states, the rate is over 20 percent.

The worst news we saved for last. Texas ranks near the top of list of children living in ďfood insecureĒ families, with 24 percent of them in households that donít always know where their next meal will be found.

Child hunger affects all of society. Children who arenít eating regularly and healthfully have a tougher time in school, and donít develop and grow as they should. The plight of hungry children is a crisis that touches every community, and affects Texas in particular. And because hungry children donít learn or thrive as they otherwise might, problems are created today that will be with society for decades to come.

The opportunities to help the hungry are quite obvious during this time of the year. Food drives will be held. Food banks will be prominent in the media. Statistics such as those provided in this report show the reasons why community food drives are so important at this time of thanksgiving. But those needs and opportunities to assist should not be forgotten when the presents are unwrapped and the Christmas ornaments are stored for another year.

Hunger in America, and especially in Texas is real, and it is a problem that demands our attention not only during the holidays, but in every season.

Brownwood Bulletin