The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
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Hunger in Sonoma County

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Hunger in Sonoma County

Too many children, adults and seniors go hungry in Sonoma County. Too many kids go to bed without dinner and too many low-income working adults must skip lunch in order to make ends meet. 

According to the 2016 Hunger Index, 70,000 at-risk Sonoma County households missed nearly 34 million of the 82 million meals needed in 2015 because they couldn’t afford enough groceries to have a healthy three meals-a day. Agencies that provide food and support for hungry residents struggled to close the ongoing missed meal gap, which has remained steady for several years. The Sonoma County Hunger Index, an annual report published by a coalition of local food assistance providers and community food security organizations, measures County progress toward meeting the basic food needs of all residents beyond the assistance provided by community and government programs.  Basic food needs for an individual are defined by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture as three healthy meals each day. In Sonoma County, the gap -- between the total needed meals and the number that households actually consume -- is 33.7 million. In other words, to close the hunger gap in Sonoma County, families would need to have additional money to buy, or charitable help to access, nearly 34 million more meals each year. The Index shows that the total of at-risk households with annual incomes of less than $50,000 has remained steady over the last few years. With little salary growth, plus inflation and rising food costs, those families’ wages, household food budgets and food assistance dollars didn’t stretch far enough to cover all the needed meals.