Hunger crisis still lingers from COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Harvey

Target Hunger is launching a mobile food pantry to help so many families still struggling with not having enough to eat. 

The money is coming from funds raised after Hurricane Harvey, which triggered a hunger crisis four years ago this Wednesday; a crisis that had started improving until COVID-19 made it worse.  

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"My husband lost his job and he’s barely started working again, but it's still like off and on," said Roxana Cabrera, after gathering some groceries from the mobile pantry for her family.

"I'm out of work at the moment. I’ve been having a hard time getting groceries and making ends meet," echoed another wife and mother, Myra Martinez.

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Target Hunger hopes to help 600 families a month with the mobile pantry, by meeting them where they are.

"They don’t drive or anything, so they can’t come out to these places. So something like this, closer by the house will really help them," said Cabrera of some of her neighbors.

It's funded through the Rebuild Texas Fund administered by OneStar, and part of the State of Qatar's $30 million effort to help the people of Houston.

"The Rebuild Texas Fund was born out of Hurricane Harvey. While the rain was still falling, we partnered with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation to raise $100 million," said Chris Bugbee, President, and CEO of OneStar.


"It’s a basic need for everyone. So it’s important to step up and help the community over here, as part of the community," said Fatema Al-Baker, Director of Public Diplomacy for the Embassy of the State of Qatar.

Hurricane Harvey not only destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, but it also left a wake of hunger, which was gradually improving until the pandemic threw millions of people out of work.  

"Harvey was a very specific disaster. I know the food needs were enormous. It sort of had a beginning, middle, and an end. Whereas, when the pandemic hit, we saw a very dramatic increase," said Sandra Wicoff, CEO of Target Hunger.

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Data from Feeding America shows the food insecurity rate in Harris county went from about 16% in 2017 before Hurricane Harvey, then dropped to 14.8% by 2018, and to 13.9% in 2019.  But when COVID struck, food insecurity spiked to 20% in 2020 and has only dropped to 17% in 2021.

"The food insecurity rates in the areas we serve are extremely high, much higher than elsewhere in the state," said Wicoff.


People who need food assistance can reach out to these organizations: