Affordable Housing and Hunger – Inextricably Linked, and Creating an Environment of Extreme Need  

 It’s a case of one element creating an inordinate amount of pressure on its related parts.  We live in a region where – for those who can afford it - the cost of housing easily consumes more than 65% of people’s income (Univ. of Santa Cruz Study, 12/2018), leaving little left over for those other, equally important matters that are a part of our lives such as food, medicine, and utilities…things that can never be considered luxuries. 

720,000 of our neighbors in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties  go to bed each night not knowing where their next meal is coming from.  1 in 3 of those we serve meals to are children .

720,000 of our neighbors in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties go to bed each night not knowing where their next meal is coming from. 1 in 3 of those we serve meals to are children.

In Silicon Valley - one of the richest regions in America - families, children, seniors, veterans and students must deal with hunger and homelessness every day throughout our communities. 720,000 of our neighbors in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties go to bed each night not knowing where their next meal is coming from.  Here at Loaves and Fishes, we reached an unhappy milestone last year:  we served over half a million meals to the most vulnerable in our communities through our 3 meal service sites and 55 partner organizations where we deliver hot nutritious meals five days a week.  Of particular concern is the fact that 1 in 3 of those we serve meals to are children. For children at every age, food is fuel, and they cannot properly learn if their nutritional needs are not met.

Since the passage of bond Measure A in 2016, which will provide $950 million dollars to create or preserve affordable housing in Santa Clara County, a much-needed spotlight has been focused on the issue of affordable housing in Silicon Valley. 

Joining the movement to increase affordable housing stock is a $50 million dollar commitment from Cisco, $100 million recently allocated by the City of San Jose and $67 million in affordable housing funds that have been provided by San Mateo County’s Affordable Housing Fund since their inception.  These funds will provide much-needed affordable housing for extremely-low, very-low and homeless populations, including families, individuals, seniors and veterans.  No one applauds these efforts more than we do.  We see the effects of a lack of affordable housing every day on the guests we serve.

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Here’s the dilemma -  the affordable housing units to be funded from these sources will not come online for occupancy for 3 – 10 years.  Most still have multiple rounds of loan, permit and environmental impact approvals to go through.  These desperately needed units will provide welcome relief to the homeless and hungry who cite a lack of affordable housing as the number one contributing factor to their current situation.  The problem is, this progress does not help address the situation and circumstances faced by the homeless and hungry today

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Folks who come to us for hot nutritious meals – for the majority the only meal they will have that day - do not have a “pause button” to hit on their hunger or their need to obtain food for their family.  People cannot wait because hunger won’t wait. Hunger marches on its own timeline, and for our most vulnerable neighbors in need that timeline started yesterday, continues each and every day, and will not end until there is equity at all levels of our society. 

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We must make meeting the needs of the hungry and homeless a part of our current and long-term conversations around housing.  They are inextricably linked – if you cannot afford current housing prices, you become homeless, and if you are spending most what precious little funds you may have coming in on housing, you don’t have enough to meet your other needs.  In the end, the result is the same – people are hungry, and we have a moral obligation, in the richest country in the world, to ensure that no one - adult, child, senior, veteran or disabled – be forced to choose between shelter and sustenance.  We are better than this.  We must be better than this.

Contributed by Gisela B. Bushey, Chief Executive Officer, Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen

Silicon Valley Partner of the Month - February

Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen

Many families ask us about volunteer opportunities where their kids can serve clients directly and experience the gift of a smile or “thank you” in return. Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen is one of those places!

Families with children over 10 can help with every aspect of food service; from preparation, serving the meal, pouring drinks, and helping with clean up after service. Volunteers interact directly with guests which includes families, children, seniors, veterans, and the homeless (all opportunities detailed below).

Did you know?

  • 1 in 4 children in the Bay Area are hungry; the national average is 1 in 6.

  • In Silicon Valley, a family making $117,000 is considered “low income.” The people served by Loaves and Fishes earn an average of $20,000 per year.

The mission of Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen is to provide hot nutritious meals that are prepared, delivered and served to low-income families, disadvantaged individuals with a special concern for children, families, seniors, veterans, students, disabled, and those experiencing homelessness.

With the goal of being an inclusive organization, Loaves & Fishes welcomes volunteers and guests of all ages. Because they serve children and families, a friendly face from a peer makes the guests feel more comfortable during service.

Contributed by Anne Santos, Community Relations Coordinator, in association with ‘Doing Good Together’.

It's Not Over Yet - How the Government Shutdown Has Affected Our Community and How You Can Help

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides millions of low-income families with a plastic card or “food stamps” to help provide food for their households. As the Government shutdown continues, there is a very real possibility that funds for the program will run out in February. The Huffington Post reports that in an effort to make sure recipients receive their February SNAP benefits, the Government has already added funds to the SNAP EBT cards and many recipients do not know they have the money on the card already, or if they do, they do not know that this money has to last them possibly into March unless the Government reopens and SNAP benefits are funded beyond February.

SNAP BENEFIT ALLOWANCES:

Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source:  USDA Food and Nutrition Service   Get the data

Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: USDA Food and Nutrition Service Get the data

 

The Government has already made moves to restrict the SNAP program by signing into law on Dec. 20, 2018, a new bill that left out new limits on the eligibility of adults without children. Those limits were part of the House version, but Congress dropped them prior to the bill’s passage. But that same day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a rule that would restrict access anyway. Source: https://theconversation.com/the-trump-administration-wants-to-tighten-snap-work-requirements-bypassing-congress-109865?mc_cid=f0e1e7938d&mc_eid=54aa2fa164

A survey by CalNonprofits revealed the Government shutdown is also hurting nonprofits that rely on federal funding to provide Safety Net Services such as food and shelter. Some nonprofits report that they cannot complete applications for new funds for everything from home loan applications, to applications for infrastructure, and economic development. Nonprofits are also lowering their fundraising expectations from the federal Government which will mean searching for new sources of funding to cover the gap.

While the Government has just announced a 3 week CR, this doesn’t mean the impact of the shutdown is over in the long-term. Furloughed workers who will soon be receiving back pay will be playing ‘catch up’ on their rent, utilities, and other bills that have been put on hold while they have been working without pay.

Thousands of workers and their families have been forced to go into debt in order to meet basic living needs, and the ultimate, permanent resolution of the shutdown will not address this issue. Contract employees are still not expected to receive any back pay, forcing them to face a future of financial losses without any hope of recovery.

At Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen, we continue to provide hot nutritious meals to anyone in need, no questions asked. We welcome all affected by the shutdown to join us at one of our public service sites Monday through Friday at 4:30pm. Please join us at:

  1. Eastside Neighborhood Center; 2150 Alum Rock Avenue, San Jose, CA 95116

  2. Goodwill of Silicon Valley; 1080 North 7th Street, San Jose, CA 95112

We have also opened brand new location! We are serving Monday and Thursday at San Jose Vietnamese Seventh Day Adventist Church located at: 1066 South Second Street, San Jose, CA 95112 - All are welcomed, no questions asked.

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Loaves & Fishes does not currently receive any federal funding and relies on the generosity of individuals like you to help feed our hungriest neighbors. Now is a critical time in our community to make sure the people who need it most have access to our services. In addition to our three public meal service sites, we partner with 40+ nonprofit partners to deliver meals across the Bay Area to community centers, low-income senior residents, and shelters. We cannot continue this work without the support of generous people like you. Please consider a gift to Loaves & Fishes to support your neighbors affected by the Government shutdown.

Contributed by Madeline Martin, Director of Marketing & Development, Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen



Need a little help during the #governmentshutdown? Get free hot meals and healthy groceries!

Are you or someone you know affected by the #governmentshutdown?  Loaves & Fishes and Second Harvest Food Bank can help you get free hot nutritious meals and free healthy groceries.

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Loaves & Fishes provides a free hot nutritious dinner, no questions asked, Monday - Friday at 4:30pm at the following location.

  1. Catholic Charities Eastside Neighborhood Center; 2150 Alum Rock Avenue, San Jose, CA

  2. Goodwill of Silicon Valley; 1080 North 7th Street, San Jose, CA

Second Harvest Food Bank can help you get free healthy groceries - Visit https://www.shfb.org/getfood to learn more.

Nancy, Senior Manager of Community Partnerships at Second Harvest Food Bank informs us:

“Here’s what we’ve learned about changes to CalFresh during the government shutdown

o   For most CalFresh participants, February benefits will be issued early, between January 16-20. These are the benefits that normally would have been issued in February 2019.  Recipients should budget carefully. They are intended for the entire month of February and recipients will NOT get additional benefits in February if they exhaust all of their funds.

o   Participants who receive CalFresh and have a report due in January should complete the report ASAP. If they are still eligible, benefits will be issued February 1-10.

o   There are currently no changes for people applying or reapplying for CalFresh, but there will be a delay in receiving the benefits.

o   We do not yet know about March benefits. Our hope is that the government re-opens quickly and March benefits will be delivered on their normal schedule. We will keep you updated as we learn more.”

If you or someone you know is in need of healthy nutritious food, please reach out to Second Harvest "Food Bank and Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen

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