Ending hunger takes a village, to borrow a phrase. Second Harvest is lucky to have partners across Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties willing to join forces to solve this stubborn problem. We recently brought together the Central Coast Hunger Coalition and a regional CalFresh (formerly the food stamps program) outreach partnership to see how we can make a difference by sharing what we know.
Did You Know?
- Many of the hardworking laborers who harvest the food we eat are going hungry during the winter. Second Harvest staff helps eligible farmworkers and their families enroll in CalFresh, by making presentations directly in the berry fields of Watsonville. Our staff teamed up with Reiter Berry Affiliates to let farmworkers know about how the assistance program can put healthy food on their table. With the picking season winding down and winter hardship on the horizon, we were able to visit 17 ranches, reaching 782 workers with this important message.
- If you live more than one mile from a full service, affordable grocery store, you are in what’s called a food desert. People in these usually low-income, urban neighborhoods have a difficult time obtaining healthy, fresh food. With pockets including Live Oak and Watsonville, food deserts exist in Santa Cruz County. While many of our network’s pantry, soup kitchen, and distribution sites serve these areas, the food bank and its allies are taking a closer look at how we can create oases in these deserts.
- Some of those we serve, like the homeless, the disabled, and, seniors, can’t use food like rice, beans, and canned goods because they don’t have the means to prepare it. They may lack access to a kitchen, or be unable to physically cook meals for themselves, making the task of feeding themselves a constant struggle. The new Restaurant Meals Program would help folks like these by letting them use their CalFresh benefits, in certain affordable restaurants like a soup and sandwich shop. The ability to get a cheap hot meal this way and take a brief respite from life on the streets, made one homeless participant feel, “like being part of civilization again.” While Santa Cruz County is not yet participating, Second Harvest will be advocating for eligible clients who could benefit.
Thanks to all of our dedicated anti-hunger advocates, including our neighbor food banks, county health and human service departments, Network for a Healthy California, United Way, 2-1-1, Community Bridges, the Volunteer Centers, Salud Para La Gente, Loaves & Fishes, United Farm Workers and Catholic Charities. For our hungry neighbors in need, our unity means their security.