As families throughout the Bay Area struggle to make ends meet in the current, harsh economic climate, service organizations that help fulfill the most basic needs, such as local food pantries, are feeling the strain.
Last year, Bay Area food banks provided more than 60 million tons of groceries to residents via this extensive network of neighborhood grocery distribution centers.
This year, that amount is not enough. These organizations, which are vital allies in the battle to prevent hunger, are struggling to meet a 25% increase in demand.
As part of our mission to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities, United Way’s “Road to Recovery” campaign is working to ensure that food banks and neighborhood pantries can meet this need.
Grupo de la Comida is one such organization. Founded in 1985, Grupo currently feeds 1,800 families a week. “The families receiving our food boxes have to make do with as little as possible,” says program Director Beth Abrams. “This problem is particularly acute for our clients who are seniors, or are pregnant or nursing.”
Grupo supplements food bank distributions with additional groceries purchased using funds from grants and donations, including grants distributed by United Way.
In March of this year, United Way distributed $3.1 million in federal Emergency Food and Shelter money to Bay Area nonprofits like Grupo de la Comida and other service organizations working to help the growing number of families in need by providing assistance with food, shelter, and utility bills.
However, the growing number of families in need has left a $1 million funding gap. In order to fill that gap, United Way has already distributed an additional $100,000 from our Road to Recovery campaign and is determined to raise another $900,000.
“It’s overwhelming,” says United Way Director of Emergency Food and Shelter Laura Escobar, who discovered the shortfall earlier this year while reviewing grant requests from local nonprofits.
“In addition to the food pantries, emergency shelters have longer waiting lists, and people in shelters have fewer exit options because of the lack of jobs and the incredible pressure on the rental market due to the foreclosure situation.”
Closing the million-dollar gap is yet another way that United Way is determined to ensure that no Bay Area family will go hungry and no child is forced to sleep on the street.