What’s the worst time of year for hunger?
When is hunger the greatest problem? During the holidays, when we gather with friends and families?
Actually, summer is especially difficult for two groups who rely on River City Food Bank: families of school-aged children, and seniors.
Why summer is a problem for families of children
Almost 57% of children enrolled in California’s K-12 program participate in the federal subsidized lunch program. When the school year ends – and now that summer school programs have fallen to budget cuts – parents have to provide one or two more meals a day for each child. For a family with two children, that’s more than 40 meals per month. What falls by the wayside when families can’t make ends meet? Some of the most important aspects of a healthy diet, dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables.
For parents, it’s a worry. More than three-quarters worry that their money will run out, or that they won’t be able to provide healthy meals. According to a study reported in Family Medicine, it costs an average of $109.58 per month to feed a one-year old meals that meet dietary recommendations. A teenaged boy, on the other end of the spectrum, costs $259.50 per month to keep in healthy meals.
For kids, food insecurity is a known risk to their health and development. Poor, hungry children are more likely than poor-but-not-hungry children to suffer from health problems such as frequent colds, ear infections, anemia, asthma, and frequent headaches. That’s bad for kids who should be out playing in the sunshine, but it also compounds pressure on these families’ household budgets when they have to pay for medical care.
Why summer is a problem for seniors
In climates like Sacramento’s, summer means more financial pressure on seniors who must pay to cool their homes or apartments or risk dehydration. Low-income seniors often don’t get the nutrition that they need, which can exacerbate chronic diseases such as heart disorders, arthritis, bone diseases, and diseases that affect the respiratory and digestive systems. When they don’t eat well, they are more likely to become ill and to recover less quickly.
How you can help
Donations to food banks like River City Food Bank tend to go down in summer. Please consider giving a gift of $50 or more to help meet the extra needs of children and seniors through the long hot summer. May was a record for us, with over 5,000 people served with 3-day emergency food supplies. We can only imagine what June will be like as school lets out.
We also deeply appreciate donations of fresh fruits and vegetables through our Growing Circle program, and healthy snacks for kids.