When I think about the city we live in, the words family-friendly and affluence come to mind. Never would I have guessed that 301,000 OC residents are at risk of hunger.
In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank
Hunger in Orange County
Children and seniors make up 50% of the those who struggle with food insecurity with 22% of seniors in the county are concerned about where their next meal will come from. One in 6 children are at risk of hunger, and nearly half of public school children rely on the Free & Reduced Lunch program as a steady source of nutrition.
Hunger is a nationwide problem with local significance. The global scale of the problem seems unsurmountable. But when brought down to a local level, the solution becomes attainable…achievable…meaningful.
Second Harvest Food Bank
I recently had an opportunity to visit our local food bank. Every month, Second Harvest Food Bank works with partner agencies to provide food to 250,000 hungry children, seniors and families in Orange County with the goal of eliminating hunger. The Food Bank’s primary source of food is donated, and includes surplus food from local grocery stores and supermarket chains, food manufacturers, restaurants, growers, and food drives. Feeding America and the USDA also contribute donations.
Once the food is received, Second Harvest inspects it for safety. It is then put into their inventory system and made available to community partners. The food is then picked up at their food distribution center or ordered online for pick-up or delivery.
Second Harvest then provides this food to local charities who distribute the food to those in need. Community partners include, Community Resource Centers, Mobile and Permanent School Pantries, Church Pantries, Senior Centers, Kids Cafes, and Summer Meal Programs. The Summer Meal Programs are particularly important since many children are vulnerable during the summer when they lose access to their school’s free lunch program.
The Food Bank partners with over 470 member charities including church pantries, shelters, senior centers, rehabilitation centers, homes for abused women and children, and emergency organizations to provide food for the more than 250,000 hungry individuals in Orange County each month.
Who are the hungry?
You may be surprised. Some of the population served by the Food Bank include the working poor, children, seniors on fixed incomes, single parents, the disabled, the homeless, and individuals experiencing medical emergencies or recent job layoffs.
How you can make a difference?
Apart from learning how our local food bank operates, I really wanted to find out what members of the community like myself can do to help fight hunger on a local level. Three vital and effective ways to get involved include donating your time, food, and funds.
Interestingly enough, I asked the grant coordinator what the most valuable contribution I could make to help fight child hunger. Her answer? Funds. While the Food Bank welcomes food, they can do so much more with financial resources. A one dollar donation provides 3 meals. I don’t know that I could even purchase one meal with one dollar. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online.
If you’d like to donate food, consider sponsoring a food drive. And if you are interested in volunteering, you can expect to pick produce, sort food, help out at events, and/or share your unique skills with the Food Bank.
My kids and I have been volunteering at Second Harvest since we moved down to Orange County. I am passionate about raising other-centered children, and one of the ways I am doing that is helping them understand that not everyone is certain they will have breakfast tomorrow morning…or dinner at night.
Isabel “Izzy” Janavs shares our passion for helping those in need. At 9, she wrote a book titled Izzy and the Candy Palace after a visit to Second Harvest. When her book was published, she decided to donate proceeds to help people in need through the Candy Palace Program. Additionally, she opened Izzy’s Corner at the food bank, which was designed as a life-sized replica of her book. In this kid-friendly space, families can learn about hunger in the community and what they can do to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate children.
Izzy’s Corner Volunteer Times
Thursday: 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Saturday: 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Additional shifts every 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month: 10:00 am – 11:30 am.
To schedule a volunteer shift with your children, please email Izzys@FeedOC.org.
7 Ways You Can Fight Hunger
- Learn about hunger in your community
- Start a food drive where you work
- Participate in a local food drive
- Volunteer to sort food
- Make a monetary donation
- Spread awareness through social media
- Become an advocate
You and I don’t likely have to travel far to see the faces of hunger. For more information on how you can help on a local or national level, visit Feeding America.