California is beautiful. Scoot down Highway 1, drive around Tahoe, even a trek through the farmlands of the central valley, seeing the black soil in contrast to the fresh green produce popping up to the surface can be spectacular. Then there are the lush vineyards of Napa, Sonoma, Amador and El Dorado. Our state is blessed by Mother Nature.
But hold on a minute. Despite that embarrassment of agricultural riches, many people are going hungry or getting food but the wrong kind. The term being used now is food insecurity. Farm to Fork is a nice slogan, but for thousands in the Sacramento Region alone–that connection isn’t being completed. The local hunger problem was bad in 2019. Since the Pandemic hit in 2020—is worsened. The Sacramento Food Bank, which distributes healthy food packages to 8 locations around the region, says it was feeding 150 thousand people a month before COVID came calling. Now the number has doubled to 300 thousand. According to The Sacramento Bee, food insecurity has not just been a problem for the homeless or the chronically jobless. People who have jobs–in some cases two income households, earn too much to qualify for California Fresh, the state’s nutritional assistance program, but not enough when rent, fuel, transportation and other expenses are factored in. As we’ve talked about in this space and seen firsthand, it’s only going to get worse with grocery and gasoline prices soaring and even used car prices prohibitive. A sudden medical or car repair bill only gets worse.
Harried families who can’t get a good meal on the table each night often opt for fast food dinners, which offer too many of the wrong kind of calories and these days don’t offer a lot of bang for the buck as they once did. Fortunately, many school children in poorer neighborhoods are entitled to a free lunch, usually their most nutritious meal of the day. But schools were shuttered for months during the pandemic making their nutrition needs from day to day less than 100 percent satisfied.
It’s shocking that this is happening in the nation’s breadbasket, but it’s happening all over the country. The nonprofit FEEDING AMERICA says 42 million Americans–and estimated 13 million of them under 18 will be hungry or undernourished on any given night in any given part of our country. It’s not a new problem, it’s a worsening problem and fixing it should be a priority. What can you do? Give to the Sacramento Food Bank or other similar charity. Donate what you can from your own pantry. If your home garden offers more than you and your family can consume. Share it. Bring it to your house of worship, a food bank or even to a neighbor who may be housebound or on tough times. Some stores offer a chance to donate directly to food centered charities or give you the option of rounding your purchase up to the next dollar, with the spare change going to help the hungry.
Oh—if you’ve done it before–do it again…Cancelled by COVID last year, Sacramento’s truly special RUN TO FEED THE HUNGRY will be back this Thanksgiving Day. The exercise will do us good. The giving will do even more.