There are more than 315,000 people, including one in five children who are at risk of hunger each month.
Most of the hungry are the working poor who are trying their best to provide food for their families, or seniors on fixed incomes who simply cannot make ends meet. With sky-high rents, rising medical costs, and lingering under-employment too many of our neighbors are forced to make hard choices between food and paying the rent or buying the medicine they need.
One in six children in our community is at risk of hunger.
In Orange County nearly half of all public school children rely on reduced or free school lunches for their major source of nutrition. That’s 129,000 kids who may well be going to bed hungry on weekends and during summer vacation.
Most of our seniors must make due on fixed incomes and many simply can’t afford basic necessities like food, rent, and medications.
Most seniors have worked hard all their lives. And in spite of all their planning and saving, many find that they simply can’t stretch their limited incomes to the end of the month. As a senior named Ruth recently told us, “I saved for a rainy day, but that rainy day came and went and now the money is gone.”
How many seniors are at risk?
• According to the Elder Economic Security Index, which figures in housing, food, transportation and health care, nearly 45% of Orange County seniors don’t have enough money for their basic necessities.
• Even with incomes above the Federal poverty level (in 2016, $11,880 for a single person, $16,020 for a couple), seniors coping with high housing costs and rising medical costs simply can’t afford enough nutritious food.
With sky-high rents and an ever-increasing cost of living, it can sometimes be impossible for even those with jobs to make ends meet. Many of those who reach out for our help are the working poor. These are men and women who, despite working long hours, still can’t afford food, rent and other basic necessities. Single moms are especially vulnerable because many lack the support and resources they need to manage both their jobs and the needs of their children.
The 2014 Hunger in America study conducted by Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and Feeding America reveals the reasons why many people in Orange County need the help of Second Harvest and its community partners to feed themselves and their families.
Many in our community are too often confronted with choices between paying for food and paying for other essentials. This study presents a revealing snapshot of the people served by Second Harvest – their circumstances, the challenges they face and the choices they are forced to make while trying to make ends meet on extremely limited household incomes. Please take a few minutes to read it. It will show you that the face of hunger is one you might recognize.