Hunger Action Month: Poor mental health a cause and effect of food insecurity

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - To end food insecurity in the Permian Basin, root causes of hunger like poor mental health have to be addressed.

During Hunger Action Month, nonprofits like West Texas Food Bank are not only asking for donations, but raising awareness about the big picture of food insecurity.

A person may experience food insecurity or poor mental health first. No matter the order, experts say each issue exacerbates the other.

“What we’re not really sure of is if mental health causes food insecurity or food insecurity affects mental health,” said Kristi Edwards, CEO of Centers for Families and Children.

Nonetheless, the two issues are intertwined.

“If you have a severe mental health issue, if you have a substance abuse issue, sometimes if it’s severe enough, you’re not capable or able to perform at a level that would provide security for yourself or your family,” Edwards said.

Food insecurity is stressful, Edwards said. It can leave a person in a state of panic and uncertainty.

“You’re going to be ruminating over and over about where am I going to get food? How am I going to get food? Will it be sufficient food? Will my children have enough to eat? Will my parents have enough to eat? I think there’s embarrassment that goes into not having enough food,” Edwards said.

Hunger can also contribute to or cause mental health issues, said Jessi Morgan, the manager of mental health for Communities in Schools of the Permian Basin.

“You’re more likely to have anxiety, depression [or] just have a hard time getting up and getting out of bed just because your body is not getting the fuel it needs,” Morgan said.

Some of the most vulnerable people to this issue are children as their brains are still developing, Morgan said. Hunger can ruin their academic performance and cause behavioral issues that result in potentially lifelong consequences.

“Persistent hunger is a trauma for kids and we know that kids that experience those things are more likely to have chronic health conditions [or] chronic mental health issues,” Morgan said.

To stop hunger, west Texans can also support the nonprofits tackling its root causes, said Libby Campbell, CEO of West Texas Food Bank.

“The best thing you can do to help support us [in] bringing awareness to Hunger Action Month is knowing there are root causes of hunger, of why people are in our lines, and what can we do to help those people get out of our lines.”

People in need of mental health or food assistance should contact area nonprofits like Centers for Families and Children, Communities in Schools of the Permian Basin and West Texas Food Bank. Resources can also be found by calling 211.

At CBS7 we’ll cover stories about hunger in the Permian Basin all month, as well as how you can help. One way is by joining CBS7′s Peanut Butter Brigade. If your business is interested in hosting a barrel, you can email

To donate peanut butter to the brigade, visit a barrel at any Market Street or United Supermarket, or at the locations below.

Donate in Midland:

  • Grace & Hustle
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Miss Cayce’s Wonderland
  • Advance Electrolysis
  • Texas Sun Winery
  • MeliRose Boutique

Donate in Odessa:

  • Standard Structures
  • CBS7 Studios in Music City Mall
  • Denta Dental
  • Permian Machinery Movers
  • Jordan Elementary
  • Flex 24 Fitness
  • Merle Norman
  • MeliRose Boutique