Desperately seeking food in California

March 19, 2010

More and more Californians are going hungry, a situation that is likely to worsen in a state rocked by recession and high unemployment. [California Watch]

A six-month study by California Watch and USC found record numbers of people overwhelming food banks and county social services offices across the state.

In 2009, California food banks distributed 300 million pounds of meals and surplus commodities–roughly eight pounds for every Californian and representing a 30 percent increase over 2008.

The numbers are being played out across the state. Los Angeles has seen a 46 percent increase since 2005 of people seeking food assistance from soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries. In Monterey, the numbers have nearly doubled.

Fresno’s Community Bank gave out 6 million pounds of food in 2008, 14 million pounds last year, and expects to distribute 30 million pounds this year.

At the same time, experts claim that vast amounts of nutritious, edible food is being thrown away. A report by the California Waste Management Board found that more than six million tons of food was either plowed under by farmers, or dumped by grocers and restaurants.

A separate study by UCLA reports more than 2.8 million families statewide currently are struggling to eat–the total population of these households reaches 11.3 million, representing one out of every four Californians. However, experts point out that the UCLA data is based on 2007 surveys–before the true impact of the recession hit–and they expect the numbers to be much high today.

All this comes against an uncertain political backdrop in Sacramento. The California Health and Human Services Agency is proposing a 16-percent cut across the board for fiscal year 2010-2011. Such actions are likely to put key programs at risk, including CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program.

“This is not a recession–it’s a depression,” said one Humboldt County food bank executive. “There’s a level of desperation out there I haven’t seen before. And I’ve been doing this for 30 years.”


Loading...

10 Comments

  1. willie says:

    You do not have to be a brilliant economist or analyst to realize that we are headed into uncharted waters (period!)!

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. rogerfreberg says:

    Well, you guys are all darn depressing wallowing in self righteous pity. Like usual, there is a lot of opinion and very little fact. We have two issues; 1) what should the government do to make things better? And 2) what can we do to improve our situation?

    1) It’s really hard to see where we are really going given the many smoke screens going on out there. We have an administration fixated on health care – more a distraction I think – than one getting America back to work, a goal of energy self-sufficiency, et cetera. You may not realize, but none of us mortals have any influence with those celestial beings living on a higher plane of existence called Congress. Talking about fixing the government is a monumental waste of time.

    2) Personally, I think the general public is fairly intelligent. The public is fairly predictable, logical and moves to it’s own advantage, generally. It wasn’t the average person who was ‘investing’ in local mortgages. The average folk were taping into the built up ‘equity’ in their personal home. So – in hindsight — who was the fool, the person who ‘invested’ in risky ventures and lost all or part or the person who took advantage of their overly inflated equity? Many Americans used their home as an ATM because it was logical to do so.

    Those who make it in the future will be those who don’t panic, stay focused, look for opportunities and keep their options open to places where they can succeed… and that may not be in California.

    Roger Freberg

    (-3) 3 Total Votes - 0 up - 3 down
  3. willie says:

    My Opinion Only

    Times are different from past recessions/ depression:
    1. In the recessions/ depression to come (duration and pattern will vary with individuals and families), there will be no true or real recovery, there will be no true or real escape, and there will be no true or real rescue!

    Only two things I can think of that will remain the same from past recessions/ depression, which is:
    1. The US has always been capable to feed itself and the whole world (but does not).
    2. The rich never suffer a recession or depression (They simply go on vacation during the vicious struggle and suffering)!

    It hurts me to make such a terrible opinion, but it is an honest one I would to share and open to feedback on.

    (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  4. firsthere says:

    Yes it is a depression, no matter what the rosy forecasts tell you on TV. Unfortunantly things are going to get a little worse. Hopefully not to the point when government assistance is needed for most of us in order to take care of the basics.

    One can survive off the government as a last resort. However the trade off is losing your pride and sense of self worth along the way.

    It will be a slow grind down so plan accordingly.

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  5. Booty JuJu says:

    This might be news to CCN and Karen, god bless her muckraking soul, but not to me or anyone else who has read my posts here during their 90 second life spans or elsewhere on the internet where they survive and thrive amidst a non purse-lipped, pink-faced, old lady knitting circle readership.

    You were all sold a load of fool’s gold disguised as the notion that home values and financing would provide a lifelong source of lucre, allowing you to have every material thing you wanted, whenever you want it. You believed the lie that endless credit card debt could be wiped out with endless home refi’s and true wealth could be easily created by point-and-click house flipping. You believed that debt could always be repaid with yet more debt. You believed that loaning people money that they had no hope of ever repaying was a legitimate and sustainable business model. You believed that filing your nails and drinking coffee as a pubic employee was a legitimate guarantee of lifelong job security, big yearly pay increases, and a fat pension at 55. You believed that money was a deep river that ran right to your doorstep. You bought the illusion of wealth without work.

    You are still to this very day encouraged to indulge in all kinds of hopes and delusions, and the main one crackling through the American mainstream now is the wish that our lives will resume once again the expansion of goodies that most citizens now regard as baseline normality – namely, a never-ending orgy of credit card spending, pay increases, pensions and real estate flipping. In other words, you are now being sold yet another barrel of snake oil disguised as the notion of an economic “recovery”. Though most of you vaguely understand how badly dysfunctional and unsustainable our economy was and how ludicrous your past notions were, you cannot see the folly of now believing that we are about to return to those same false salad days.

    Here’s some news you can use – THERE IS NO RECOVERY.

    Let’s clarify here that “recovery” is generally taken to mean resuming a prior state. Consequently, are we to believe that the US will return to an economy based solely on the fraudulent securitization of reckless debt and pandemic consumer psychosis?

    Come now.

    So, if a “recovery” is not in the cards, then what exactly is going on out there?

    Stated simply, we’re headed into the wildest king-hell debt workout that the world has ever seen, which will propel a lot of people accustom to working in air-conditioned cubicles into a different world. We march every day into a reality with mortgages going unpaid, credit cards getting cancelled, personal wealth disappearing while fears and grievances mount.

    At the same time that the US economy is in slow-motion, dry heaving convulsions, we are also seeing an epic, comprehensive failure of leadership in every sector and every level of American life – in politics, business, banking, education, news media, medicine, and religion. All are determined to pretend that we can somehow continue the habits and behaviors of the pre bust era. They are all wholly unwilling to face reality, and are all engaged in mutually supporting each other’s infantile, idiotic fantasies.

    The profound nausea spreading through the homes and offices of America is simply the recognition of exactly where we are in all this; off the cliff. Look me in the eyes and tell me the average Joe isn’t standing bug-eyed and frozen with fear, terrified of losing his job, or of finding a new one. Finally, in the teeth reality and rationality, our shining leadership has rededicated itself to the worst action it could take under the circumstances; a campaign to sustain the unsustainable. This is what’s meant in the foolish term “recovery.”

    I suggest you all reflect for a while on your self-surrender to the tyranny of everything that diminishes you to mere “consumers.”

    (13) 19 Total Votes - 16 up - 3 down
    • cheseburger says:

      Bootyjuice, although I owe no one money, I completely agree with all concepts of your post!
      Some of us who lived between our means were caught up in the scheme. By a cute little hussy in a push up bra. Lying through her teeth like a snake in the grass, yep that’s you Courtney, if you hadn’t lied I would be in the bread line.

      (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
    • hotdog says:

      Right on Booty, the madness goes on. But we do have some really good folks trying to find a solution, but they are often drowned out by the white noise of partisan politics and corporate greed. And of course personal responsibility is lagging like mad. Maybe this is our swan song, and like the ancient romans, we’re on the way out because of our collective insanity.
      Honesty, frugality, cooperation, and that forgotten asset intelligence are all rapidly dwindling as revered traits to live by.

      (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
    • R.Hodin says:

      Brilliant write-up of the collapse of the marketing version of the American Myth!

      The Myth must die in order for us to see what is real and what is false. Focus instead on what is emerging, rather than hope for a return of what was familiar and which has been lost.

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  6. cheseburger says:

    Times are tough, things are getting rough, eating breadline food today, while GEARHART develops away!!! IN OHIO, I’m out of ideas on what to do with this guy, see today’s trib.

    (-7) 7 Total Votes - 0 up - 7 down
    • Cindy says:

      I don’t think Gearhart is developing like the Trib say’s he is. All of his assets are required to be included in his bankruptcy and will be liquidated. The court has tracked assets that he failed to disclose like his cars and the investment in the PI JI HO TA Casino LLC, etc. He doesn’t have anything to develop. I think the Trib has it all a** backwards. If anything, it’s possible that he is working for other developers but he can’t own any % of those projects.

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down

Comments are closed.