Hunger is closer than you think
David Bolling’s editorial in the July 17 edition of the Index-Tribune (“Millions still hungry”) revealed the alarming news that the welfare of millions of Californians is precarious as food insecurity reaches deeper into the ranks of low-income households. Perhaps most alarming is the statistic that nearly half of California’s low-income families could not afford enough food to sufficiently feed their children.
Hunger is closer than you think. As a community member, local business owner and a board member of the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB), I am concerned about local hunger. Here in Sonoma Valley, many of us pass neighbors every day, never realizing that they have faced, or are currently experiencing, hunger. They may be making desperate choices between buying food, paying medical bills and putting gasoline in the car to get to work.
Three local people recently shared their stories with us while standing in line at food distributions in Sonoma.
A disabled nurse told us she was unable to go back to work, on the edge, just trying to hang on. She was relieved by the bag of groceries she received.
A working mother of two teenagers shared that it’s expensive to live in Sonoma. It was humbling, but necessity had forced her to seek help for the first time in her life.
A working father explained that his paycheck just wasn’t making ends meet, and without the food he was receiving his family was living more “efficiently” by eating every other day.
The REFB is Sonoma County’s largest hunger relief organization. In Sonoma Valley, our programs for children, seniors and others in need of emergency food assistance, combined with the food distributed by our partner agencies, provided the equivalent of 538,000 meals in 2010-11. Fresh fruits and vegetables now account for over half the food we distribute.
While it’s true that hunger is closer than many think, so is the solution. The REFB is in the midst of a capital campaign that will change the face of ending hunger in our community and throughout Sonoma County. We are retrofitting a new and larger facility that will serve as a vibrant regional hub from which we can respond to the county’s hunger and nutrition needs. To find out how you can be a part of this effort contact Gary Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gary Edwards is president of Sage Marketing, a member of the Sonoma Planning Commission, an active Rotarian and a board member of the Redwood Empire Food Bank.