Frustrated with the lack of media attention for people who face poverty and lack of access to healthy food, California State Senator Carol Liu visited food banks up and down the state with her Road to Resilience Bus Tour. The tour culminated with a roundtable discussion at River City Food Bank, just before participants offered testimony at the State Senate Human Services Committee.
Eileen noted that River City Food Bank has seen an increase of 38% in visits by seniors since 2008. Even with that growth, we know many seniors are embarrassed to seek help – whether from the government, or a food bank.
Here’s what our visitors had to say about growing need:
“Poverty in California is not a sexy subject. …Why in a country that is so wealthy do we have this issue? What is the role of government? … Even people who regarded themselves as middle class and are reticent to ask for help find themselves needing it.” — Sen. Carol Liu
“I’m very concerned about how food affects people’s mental health. I can’t think of people that are under more stress… than people that are at the bottom rung of the ladder. It can drive people to suicide… You do have suicide out of desperation.” — Frank, a former RCFB client and disabled senior who advocates for vulnerable seniors
Sister Diane Donaghue, with Sisters of Social Service, went on a previous bus tour in the Midwest that visited congressional representatives who had voted for congressman Ryan’s budget. She and other Catholic leaders object strongly to his statements that his budget was moral and in keeping with Catholic faith; she advocates for a budget that provides “responsible programs for responsible revenue.”
“What would I say to Congressman Ryan (about his proposed budget)? For every person in the (employment) program there are 15 people behind me wanting to work… Older people take an average of 1 1/2 years to be re-employed.” — Deborah Briceland-Betts, Senior Community Service Employment Program, AARP Foundation