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Food Bank Study Reveals Face Of Hunger In San Diego County

Above: The San Diego Food Bank distributed nearly 18 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2011-2012.

A new report sheds light on the 350,000 people in San Diego County who depend on the Food Bank for their meals, and seeks to understand the demographic, economic and social factors driving that need.

Aired 5/29/13 on KPBS News.

A new report sheds light on the 350,000 people in San Diego County who depend on the Food Bank for their meals, and seeks to understand the demographic, economic and social factors driving that need.

San Diego Food Bank

Nearly a quarter of the food bank population has been relying on the food bank for one to three years.

Unemployment is a key force driving San Diego Food Bank demand, according to the study by Fermanian Business & Economic Institute of Point Loma Nazarene University. More than a third of the households receiving food assistance have no wage earners.

Among those with jobs, two-thirds have annual household incomes of less than $17,000.

Nearly a quarter of the food bank population, of which 55 percent are Hispanics and 29 percent are caucasian, has been relying on the food bank for one to three years, according to the study.

"It turns out that the portrait of food bank recipients is a picture that very much looks like you or I," said Lynn Reaser study author and chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Reaser said the face of hunger in San Diego County is working families who can’t make ends meet, seniors who have been laid off, and tens of thousands of children.

"As we’ve looked at the problem, it is a problem not of hunger and food bank assistance, but is a comprehensive problem involving poverty, education, employment, as well as hunger," said Reaser.

Congressman Scott Peters and San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts vowed to help find a comprehensive solution.

"The County has looked at Cal Fresh and food stamps but I believe now with these findings from this report we can do even more," said Roberts. "We’re going to continue to work, we’re looking forward to partnering with the food bank on this initiative."

San Diego Food Bank

Long-term unemployed of San Diego Food Bank recipients.

"Consistently this community has demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively, cooperatively -- governments, businesses, nonprofit entitites -- to provide insights and practical solutions to problems," said Peters, "and we'll do that here again with respect to hunger."

The Food Bank distributed nearly 18 million pounds of food last fiscal year.

The primary data for this study was collected at the Food Bank’s distribution sites during October 2012 and included interviews with more than 550 households receiving food assistance.

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | May 28, 2013 at 2 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't understand why people choose to have children when they can barely afford to support themselves.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | May 28, 2013 at 3:25 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

JM,

I agree. The reason the Food Bank feeds 350,000 people per month is not due to bad luck or a sluggish economy. It is unsustainable overpopulation.

These massive families become dependent on government hand-outs and pass down that culture of dependency to their many children who will do the same to their children.

Fix the overpopulation problem and the Food Bank will feed 0 people per month.

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Avatar for user 'julianrpe'

julianrpe | May 28, 2013 at 5:21 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

"there before the grace of god go I." The population has certainly not "overgrown" in proportion to the demographics of those who depend on food assistance more than ever before.
While I do think there is some validity to habitual poverty patterns, and I think society needs to do a better job of implementing social welfare programs that encourage self-sufficiency, I think blaming food pantry clients' inverts the causality of why more families would seek out food assistance.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 28, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Jean and californiadefender: I agree there are some people who have no business having children when they can't support them.

The problem I have, though, is when stories like this come out and people imply that everyone or even the majority of people who use social services are all irresponsible deadbeats who don't even want to try to lift themselves out of poverty.

That simply isn't true.

There are all types of people out there who need help at some point in their lives, it's not fair to overgeneralize.

Another point - KPBS did a great exposé on how San Diego County is one of the worst in the country for social services.

The piece included interviews with the County Board of Supervisors who all but admit they are against these services despite the fact it's part of their job descriptions to deliver them according to law.

Any follow-up to his?

Has our County improved in this regard?

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