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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: North Bay / Marin | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Hunger in Sonoma County
Hunger in Sonoma County is still a major issue
According to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, one of every five people in Sonoma County is effected by hunger. Considering this statistic it is clear that many individuals and families are not getting the help they need. We can attribute the rise in hunger in Sonoma County to not the lack of resources, but instead the lack of utilization of these resources. Considering this, the question remains, how can we help the hungry if they are not utilizing the resources? We first have to consider that many public assistance programs are hard to access. Many food pantries require the individual to have a California ID or even proof of residency in the exact area. In addition, many feel stigmatized by receiving hunger assistance. Despite Sonoma County's efforts to reduce hunger, there are still many who remain hungry in our county.
Undocumented families are especially affected by hunger in Sonoma County. If no one in the family has legal status, they are unable to quality for any kind of public assistance. Because of this, it is not surprising that many remain hungry. By requiring legal documentation, public assistance including food stamps leaves out a large population, leading to increased hunger. The literature on hunger in Sonoma County indicated that residents are hungry due to the fact that federal and local assistance programs are underutilized. Although this may be true, we cannot ignore those who seek out help but cannot receive it.
A study conducted by myself and other members of a group in a undergraduate sociology class. Findings are for Sonoma County
A study completed by myself and other members of a group as part of an undergraduate study program in sociology revealed that hunger is prevalent even in Sonoma County. Statistics show that there are 47,726 people living below the poverty line in Sonoma County. 17,000 of these individuals live in homes where they lack food security. Our research involved interviewing those who run food pantries finding the most prevalent groups who fall into these statistics. Out of 46 food pantries in Sonoma County we interviewed workers at 20 and found that those who are most in need of food services are between the ages of 30 and 55. These people, mostly women, are employed and most likely part of single-parent families. Significantly, most people do not think of those who are employed as being food insecure, but our findings have shown otherwise. Ethnicity played no part in the predictability of food insecurity. Those who used the food pantries were a reflection of the demographic surrounding the location of the pantries themselves. We also attempted to answer another question, “How often were those who were food insecure forgoing it for longer than 24 hours?”. The results were unclear and further study would be required to answer such a question.