Who is Ag Against Hunger Helping?
Would you rather be homeless or hungry? According to the Hunger in America 2010 report, 50% of the client households (compared to 9% nationally) served by the Monterey County Food Bank have had to make that decision. In Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, 25% of the people served are homeless (15% higher than the national average). Worse, hunger impacts our most vulnerable population in California counties, 45% of the hungry served by food banks in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties are children under 18 years old (compared to 38% nationwide). Despite the abundance of food grown here, hunger is an epidemic in our tri-county area. Salinas Valley has long been considered the ‘Salad Bowl of the World’, yet unemployment in the City of Salinas is at 22%, compared to the statewide average of 12.8% (California EDD – 2010), hence many salad bowls are empty.
Hunger is a global issue that will never go away. Currently, we supply fresh, nutritious produce to an estimated 3 million people in need across the Western United States every year.
Adequate and appropriate nutrition is a linchpin of well-being and health that's especially challenging with limited financial resources. The connection between chronic illnesses — diabetes is just one example — and diets poor in fruits and vegetables is well-established. The correlation is strong: The Department of Agriculture states that improved nutrition and lifestyle could reduce illness and death due to cancer by 30-40%, death from cardiovascular disease by 22-30%, and cases of diabetes by 50%.
Among children, diet patterns establish the foundation of adult eating habits. For seniors, and pregnant women, healthful eating is also critical.
The affluent enjoy the option of choosing among a range of nutritious foods and healthy lifestyles. For the poor, the only option is whatever is available and possible at the moment. This lack of healthful food choices contributes to the health disparities we see between the affluent and others, and the increasing number of low-income individuals with chronic health conditions that spring from poor nutrition.
Please help Ag Against Hunger in our quest to help provide healthy, nutritious produce to those who need it most.