SANTA CLARA, Calif.--()--Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties joined Santa Clara University in releasing the 2011 Hunger Index today, which shows that the number people who can’t meet their daily food needs continues to grow and the meal gap is increasing in Santa Clara County. The Hunger Index was released during the fifth annual Hunger Issues Forum held at Santa Clara University. The Index measures the gap between the need for food and the ability of individuals to get food with the help of government agencies and food-assistance organizations like Second Harvest.
“Since the recession started, Second Harvest has seen a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of people we serve, and that number continues to edge up despite the improving economy”
The Hunger Index shows that the gap grew by 12 million meals, from 137 million in 2010 to 149 million in 2011. While food assistance grew by 11 million meals, the need increased by 23 million meals. According to the Hunger Index, the growth in food assistance was led by increased enrollment in CalFresh, commonly called food stamps.
“The need for food continues to rise, even as the economy recovers,” said S. Andrew Starbird, dean of Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and co-creator of the Hunger Index.
The need for food assistance has increased due to the rise in the number of households earning less than $50,000, which grew by 7.2 percent in Santa Clara County. The average annual income needed for a family of three to be economically self-sufficient in Santa Clara County is $72,221, according to the California Budget Project.
“Since the recession started, Second Harvest has seen a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of people we serve, and that number continues to edge up despite the improving economy,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “The Food Bank is keeping pace with the rising need and we will continue to work smarter to ensure that anyone who needs a meal can get one. Part of our strategy is to increase the number of eligible people who participate in CalFresh, a critical food-assistance program that further leverages Food Bank resources.”
CalFresh is the largest source of food assistance in Santa Clara County, followed by Second Harvest Food Bank. But only about half of those who are eligible for CalFresh participate in the supplemental food program. In fact, participation rates in California are the lowest in the nation.
The Hunger Issues Forum is held each year to focus attention on local hunger and is sponsored by the Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business and its Food and Agribusiness Institute.
More about Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties: www.SHFB.org.
More about Santa Clara University: www.scu.edu