More East Texans are Living Below the Poverty Line

The Christian Information & Service Center in Lufkin made history this month, but C.I.S.C. volunteers are not celebrating. The Lufkin agency fed a record-breaking 9,000 East Texas residents in August; well over the usual 6,000 residents who get their groceries there each month; a sign that more people are living well below the poverty level.

Executive Director, Linda Smelley, said, "I'm looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas where we'll probably feed 2- to 3,000 families and we're getting ready for that now. I'm worried."

Many of the families who get food from C.I.S.C. are from Angelina County, but more of them are coming from Polk, Cherokee and Nacogdoches counties to feed their families.

"It's a lot of the elderly who are on fixed incomes [and] a lot of people with a lot of children. We have some with five and six children; just a combination - a lot of disability people."

Unusually high gas prices, skyrocketing electric bills and rising health care costs are forcing a lot of residents to stretch their dollars any way they can. While many people are embarrassed to reach out to food banks and shelters for help, others are grateful for the agencies that are always willing and able to lend a hand.