Food, Glorious Food
By Alex Distefano
The IE is no stranger to poverty and hunger, but we’ve got big-hearted organizations to help us stay full this holiday season
With the annual Thanksgiving holiday feast upon us, local food banks will step up and help to feed the area’s needy, which includes members of the homeless communities, low income senior citizens, veterans, the disabled and struggling families.
This year, however, there will be more mouths to feed. Along with the stagnant economy and high rates of unemployment, the Inland Empire was unfortunately ranked first, among nation’s top 25 poorest metropolitan areas, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report that was released in September 2013. In that same report, figures from last year show 20.4 percent of San Bernardino County residents lived below the federal poverty line.
The City of San Bernardino is hit especially hard, with the city filing for bankruptcy and a poverty rate of roughly 30 percent and an unemployment level at nearly 18 percent.
According to local news reports, Second Harvest Food Bank, which serves the Inland Empire said that last year a whopping record of 30 million pounds of food was given out to IE residents in both San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The food bank was formed in 1981 in Riverside, and today works with more than 400 local agencies and organizations to donate around 2.5 million pounds of food every month. The Press Enterprise reported the food bank’s lead director, 65-year old Daryl Brock, is retiring after more than three decades of helping fight hunger in the community.
Brock told the Enterprise that there are roughly 800,000 people in the Inland Empire who live below the U.S. poverty line, including many women and children. He said that Second Harvest Food Bank feeds about 400,000 of these people, each month.
Although his vacancy will leave a void at Second Harvest, the war on hunger, and ultimately, poverty must continue, and it will only see success if people work together at the local level, Brock said. “I could stay here forever, but it doesn’t do the program any good and doesn’t do our community any good. The bank needs new blood and fresh vision,” Brock said.
Fortunately, there will also be a plethora of other non-profits, agencies and food banks all handing out food, or serving up holiday dinners this year to the needy families and hungry residents. In San Bernardino County, The Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County Food Bank will give away 14,000 turkeys to the areas low-income residents and families. “The holiday season is going to be a little bit brighter this year in San Bernardino County, thanks to the Community Action Partnership, and a grant by the Emergency Food Assistance Program,” said Patricia L. Nickols-Butler the organization’s CEO, in a recent San Bernardino Sun article. “This is one of the single largest holiday turkey distributions in the agency’s history. The San Bernardino Sun also reported that the food bank has over 2,000 volunteers, and serves 78 cities, while helping 30,000 families every month, making it one of the largest food banks in the Inland Empire.
For more information, or if you need assistance feeding your family this holiday season, please call The Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County Food Bank, at (909) 723-1500.