Food punishes wallet


Managing editor Keith Montes (The DVC Inquirer)

Keith Montes

Human beings have a few basic needs when it comes to survival. Water, sleep, and food range among the highest priorities of these needs. In our currently troubled economic state, more of your neighbors are finding it increasingly difficult to gain access to the necessary calories needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization website, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Now, I’m not talking about having enough money to purchase luxuries like a front row ticket to a hot upcoming concert, I am talking about people having enough money to provide themselves with the daily meals required to sustain a healthy existence.

There has been a significant spike in the amount of Contra Costa residents who have begun accepting food stamps through the Contra Costa Employment and Human Services Department. Joe Valentine, the director of this county organization, stated in a November 2011 KCBS interview, “We now have over 30,000 households on food stamps. Three years ago we had 16,000. So those applications have increased significantly.” This is an 87.5 percent increase of food stamp participants over the course of only a few years.

Food banks have also become inundated with an ever increasing demand of people who are accessing their services. A 2010 Hunger Survey of the Food Bank of Contra Costa County and Solano Counties, as reported in a  local needs assessment by UC Davis SNAP-ED, states that “more than 130,000 people receive food each month through the food bank. The findings represent a 64 percent increase since the findings were reported in Hunger in America 2006.”

It is going to take an effort on behalf of us as a community to help those who are hungry here in our very own neighborhood. If you are reading this and wondering where you will find your next meal, you are not alone. There are solutions available to help you resolve this immediate need.

In our society, there seems to be a stigma or even prejudice which exists when somebody does not have enough money to sustain their basic needs, as though they were in this position by their choosing and deserve to suffer. This is simply not true. In a society where we reward those with greater wealth and celebrate CEOs as if they are gods, I can see why it is easy to not speak up and let people know you are in need.

While some are worried about whether or not they will be able to own the latest version of the iPhone, there are people on our college campus who can’t even afford their next meal. Try to imagine studying or taking an exam on an empty stomach. This lack of focus will directly affect your performance and may result in an overall lower grade in your course.

So how can you make a difference? Participate in or organize a food drive. Not just during the holiday season when everyone is giving mood, but year-round. If you are somebody who is experiencing food insecurity, don’t be ashamed or afraid to speak up about it. You have a right to eat so don’t let anyone get you down and know there is help available.

Please contact the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties for information on how to access food, make donations or volunteer. They are located at 4010 Nelson Avenue, Concord and can be reached (925) 676-7543 and online at