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SAN DIEGO -- Hundreds of people waited today in a long line to get the monthly food distribution at The Center in Hillcrest, a harsh reminder of the hardships facing San Diegans this year.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Food Bank releases statistics that illustrate how the demand for food assistance continues to soar since the start of the recession and the staggering rise in unemployment.
The amount of food distributed countywide has tripled and quadrupled in key cities including Lemon Grove, up 436 percent; Vista, up 368 percent; Imperial Beach, up 234 percent; and Spring Valley, up 219 percent.
The number of meals distributed by the Food Bank to the City of San Diego alone during the first two quarters of 2008 increased from 1,774,823 million to 3,057,823 million in 2010 over the same period – an increase of 72 percent.
The Food Bank’s distribution data charts successive rises in the amount of food it distributed in the first two quarters of 2008, 2009, and the same period this year.
From the official start of the recession in December 2007 to the second quarter of this year, the amount food distributed is at an all-time high for the 33-year-old hunger-relief nonprofit.
“The escalation in the demands on the San Diego Food Bank is a direct reflection of the sharp climb in unemployment throughout the county," said
Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University and president of the National Association for Business Economics.
"Based on national data and data for the County, I estimate the region's rate of unemployment is currently around 17 percent, which includes individuals who can only find part-time work and others who have given up the job search. Unemployment is likely to stay uncomfortably high for some time, implying ongoing pressures on key agencies serving those under economic stress, such as the Food Bank."
Based on the number of people enrolled on specific Food Bank programs and reports from its nonprofit distribution partners, the number of people served by the Food Bank monthly increased from 200,000 in 2008 to 304,000 in 2009, and over 342,000 in 2010 – an overall increase of over 70 percent.
The Food Bank’s Emergency Food Program, for families in immediate need of assistance, increased from an average of 41,359 participants in the first two quarters of 2008 to 79,534 participants in the same span of time this year – a rise of 92 percent.
In total, the Food Bank distributed 15.3 million pounds of food in the fiscal year that ended in June, an increase from 11.3 million pounds the previous fiscal year, 2008-09, and 9.1 million for the 2007-08 fiscal year.
“The Food Bank’s distribution figures are alarming and demonstrate how much the economic crisis has affected our community," said Eugene Mitchell, Food Bank chairman. "As San Diego County’s safety net, tens of thousands of individuals and families are turning to us for help every week, many of whom face the choice of paying rent or putting food on the table. This is why we need the community to continue supporting us because the economy may have recovered in Wall Street but on Main Street our food lines continue to grow every day.”
The Food Bank distributed 9.1 million pounds of food throughout San Diego County during the fiscal year 2007-08. This increased to 11.3 million pounds in the fiscal year 2008-09, and shot up to 15.3 million pounds in the fiscal year 2009-10.
Conversion from pounds of food distributed to meals The San Diego Food Bank uses a U.S. Department of Agriculture formula from 1987-88 that equates 1.28 pounds of food to a meal. The Food Bank uses this formula to make its statistics more accessible to the public.
Distribution of non-food items
In addition to food, the Food Bank distributes donations of non-food items it receives such as personal hygiene products and household cleaning goods such as laundry detergent. The following includes amount of non-food items as a proportion of its total (calendar year) distributions: 2007 – 2 percent, 2008 – 1 percent, 2009 – 1 percent, Q1&Q2 2010 – 0 percent.
San Diego hunger facts
Established in 1977, the San Diego Food Bank provides food and services to more than 340,000 individuals each month. The people who turn to the San Diego Food Bank for help are children, families, seniors and the working poor. Of the 3.1 million residents in San Diego County over 483,000 people live at or near the federal poverty level and face the threat of hunger. 273,000 are children.
Hunger or "food insecurity" means households face times when they do not know if they will have enough food, or do not know how they will get their next meal.
About the San Diego Food Bank
The San Diego Food Bank (SDFB) feeds over 342,000 people per month in partnership with over 350 nonprofit community partners including: food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, low-income daycare centers, senior centers, churches, schools, and day centers for the elderly and disabled.
The Food Bank’s nonprofit partners collect food from its 72,000-square-foot warehouse in Miramar and distribute the food directly to people in need in their local communities. The Food Bank also distributes food directly at 147 sites every month. By acting as a central distribution point and through its own direct distributions, the Food Bank and its nonprofit partners provide food to communities throughout the county’s 4,200 square mile radius.
September is Hunger Action Month
The Food Bank releases its distribution statistics ahead of September, which is Hunger Action Month, a nationwide effort to motivate local action to end hunger. Hunger Action Month will enable elected officials, community leaders and all San Diegans to join the fight against hunger by raising awareness of the food crisis locally and nationwide.
Click HERE for information on how you can help.