National Hunger Statistics

Poverty affects our most basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter. An impoverished individual or family must always juggle their limited resources in attempting to meet these needs. Food expenditures are among the most flexible items in household budgets which are frequently squeezed when income dips or unemployment strikes. Nationally, the minimal cost to feed a family of four can run $145 to $287 a week. According to the USDA, more than one in seven American households – 49 million individuals, including 12 million children – struggles to have enough to eat. Hunger also increases the risk of illness and infection. Those who are chronically hungry are also more likely to be obese, leading to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.

 
$216

Average weekly cost
to feed a family of four.

12 million

Children struggle
to have enough to eat.

1/7

American households
face food insecurity.

 

The USDA also states that from 2007 to 2011, the years just before and after the Great Recession, the percentage of U.S. households with food-insecure children (lacking consistent access to adequate food) increased from 8.3 to 10% because households with unemployed adults and part-time workers comprised a larger portion of the total in the post-recessionary period than in the pre-recessionary period. Due to the nation’s higher unemployment, the USDA Food Stamp Program (also known as the Supplemental Food Assistance Program – SNAP) has more people enrolled than at any time in its 40-year history (one in seven Americans). Hundreds of thousands of children suffer pangs of hunger as they await their first meal of the day – a free breakfast and/or lunch served at school. More Americans are facing food insecurity for the first time in their lives. A Tufts University study demonstrates that even mild malnutrition can affect a child’s ability to develop appropriate cognitive skills.

Local Hunger Statistics
High housing consumes over 50% of the family income in and around San Jose.

High housing consumes over 50% of the family income in and around San Jose.

As the Bay Area recovered from the Great Recession, household incomes increased, but so did poverty rates and the cost of housing, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Santa Clara County, where the tech boom produced tens of thousands of new jobs, median household income rose 9.7%. However, the poverty rate in Santa Clara jumped from 8.6% to 9.9%, while the median gross rent went up to 20 percent.

Silicon Valley is one of the wealthiest places in the nation, but it is the tale of two valleys. This country - with a GDP of $16.8 trillion - has the developed world's second highest rate of child poverty. In the Bay Area 1 in 4 children lives below the poverty line. In our region apartment rents average more than $2,300 per month. It takes an annual income of more than $82,000 for a family to pay their bills and put food on the table. The majority of the guests we serve earn less than $20,000 per year. Therefore, many of them have no other choice but to work multiple jobs or share homes with multiple familes. Few have the time or resources to prepare food, let alone acquire ingredients. The little food they may have may be eaten by another family. 

Santa Clara University’s Santa Clara County Hunger Index reports that the community’s unmet need for food assistance has been skyrocketing. Using data from US Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, UCLA, and other Santa Clara County partners, The 2013 Hunger Index estimated 814 million meals were required for all low-income households in 2013. Dr. Starbird found that these families were able to afford enough food to provide 417 million meals, or a little more than half their daily needs. Food-assistance programs provided 221 million meals, leaving 176 million "missing" meals. 

Like many regions across the nation, Santa Clara County has “food deserts,” low-income neighborhoods without grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices, and a lack of adequate public transportation. This means that the local population tends to buy higher calorie, cheaper food, which is lower in nutritional value. The Hunger Study published by Second Harvest Food Bank and Santa Clara University’s Leavy School of Business states that hunger affects 44% of the children and 12% of the seniors in Santa Clara County.

Senior Needs

senior-nutrition-needs

Almost half (47%) of California’s elderly are unable to afford even their most basic needs.

Today poverty is rising among seniors faster than any other group. Two reasons for this are that the baby boom generation is retiring at the rate of 10,000 people per day, and that people are living longer and having to pay high medical costs.

51% of U.S. families headed by a person 65-74 had no money in retirement savings accounts in 2010.

Seniors experience more complications from chronic illnesses, leading to longer hospital stays - 20 percent of people over the age of 75 have five or more chronic illnesses. Malnutrition also increases the risk of falls - one in three seniors experiences a fall every year, and 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injury.

Children’s Needs

According to the USDA, more than one in seven American households – 49 million individuals, including 12 million children – struggles to have enough to eat. 

childrens-hunger-needs

Although food assistance increased by 8% in 2011, the vulnerable households increased by 7% and the food need by 8%. The USDA also states that from 2007 to 2011, the years just before and after the Great Recession, the percentage of U.S. households with food-insecure children (lacking consistent access to adequate food) increased from 8.3 to 10% because households with unemployed adults and part-time workers comprised a larger portion of the total in the post-recessionary period than in the pre-recessionary period. Second Harvest Food Bank’s study also paints an equally dire local picture – more than one in seven children in Santa Clara County face chronic hunger. Hundreds of thousands of children suffer pangs of hunger as they await their first meal of the day – a free breakfast and/or lunch served at school.

Programs & Activities

Loaves & Fishes provides hot meals in eastern Santa Clara County to anyone in need including families and the homeless. Loaves & Fishes serves more than 4,800 meals each week or approximately 300,000 annually. We are committed to nutritiously balanced meals and are one of the few meal programs that do not rely on overly processed convenience foods, as locally grown, organic vegetables and fruit are served at each meal. Our garden provides fresh, nutrient dense and delicious seasonal produce.

The first objective of Loaves & Fishes is to meet the most basic nutritional needs of our low-income guests, providing some sense of food security. Secondly, by meeting a portion of a working-poor individual or family’s food needs, they can then use the remainder of their precious resources to pay for other basic needs, such as rent, medical, or utilities. Once basic survival needs are met, guests can then strive to meet other “higher” goals, such as better employment and education, which can lead to true self-sufficiency. Nutritious meals and proper nutrition increase healthy functioning allowing better school and job performance, overall better health, and a more positive outlook on life.