WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Official census day is April 1, but it’s time to start checking the mailbox for that initial invitation.
Starting Thursday, invitations to respond to the once-a-decade count will start to hit each household.
Everyone counts in Wichita Falls, but nonprofit officials said if everyone in Wichita Falls doesn’t count themselves, it could hurt their services.
“We wouldn’t be able to feed people,” Wichita Falls Area Food Bank CEO Kara Nickens said. “We have about one in six that are food insecure and one in four when it comes to our children, last year we distributed over 3.3 million pounds of food.”
“It’s gonna cut the funding that we need to serve children, in the past we’ve been undercounted,” Child Care Partners executive director Keri Goins said.
The consequences for an undercount in the 2020 Census go beyond an incorrect population, affecting nonprofits like the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank and Child Care Partners.
“It hurts people that we know need services and some of the people most in need of the services with the funds that we get back based on our decennial count are the ones that do need to hear the message, that it is confidential, it is easy to do, it takes less than 10 minutes,” Wichita Falls city planning administrator Karen Montgomery-Gagne said.
The City of Wichita Falls has encouraged and educated residents to count themselves.
Now the time is here and invitations to respond are on their way to residents’ mailboxes.
“Every address will receive an invitation letter from the official census director, it’ll be from Steven Dillingham, from what we know it’ll have the Census, Department of the Commerce logo on the outside of the envelope,” Montgomery-Gagne said.
Montgomery-Gagne said if just one percent goes uncounted, $2.1 million in federal funding would be lost per year in Wichita Falls, that’s more than $20 million over the next decade.
“We get a lot of food from the USDA program through Commodity Programs, we also have our kids cafe after school feeding program, there’s also the meal programs at our local schools that are federally funded,” Nickens said.
“I know [for] a lot of us it’s paperwork, it’s uncomfortable, we think it doesn’t matter,” Goins said. “The fact is that it does matter.”
The once every 10 years census can be a make or break, local officials hope folks make this one count.
Unlike the last 230 years, people can now respond by phone and online rather than just through a paper questionnaire.