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Hunger Research in 2018

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Hunger Research in 2018

Special Blog Post by Ellen Coppins, Market Research Analyst

Lunch at the Library Program at Morgan Hill Library in Morgan Hill, California

Hunger is a complex topic, but a variety of reports and articles released in 2018 can help us better understand why so many in our area face this problem. Below you’ll find links to key reports and studies on our community, with highlights from each. 

Hunger is pervasive in Silicon Valley. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who among us is struggling to put food on the table.

Hidden Hunger: How Families Slip Through. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2018.

  • The Bay Area’s hidden hungry are the Hayward delivery driver and homemaker who rely on the food bank to feed their family of five. They are the seniors struggling to get enough to eat in East Palo Alto, just 2 miles from Facebook headquarters and its free employee meals. They are the diabetics showing up in emergency rooms in Oakland with low blood sugar at the end of the month because they ran out of food. They are the undocumented families sharing tiny apartments in the South Bay, cooking beans on camp stoves in their bedrooms.

As workers and students struggle, food banks are becoming a necessity. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, December 11, 2018.

  • Amid the millionaires and billionaires of Silicon Valley, the working poor and cash-strapped college students struggle to pay ever-increasing rent, leaving little left over for food.
  • These workers, many with two jobs, and college kids with full course loads have upended the image of the hungry, said Leslie Bacho, Second Harvest chief executive.

A common theme for reports on the Bay Area, and one of the primary reasons Second Harvest Food Bank now serves more people than ever before, is that wages have not kept pace with the cost of housing.

Still Walking the Lifelong Tightrope: Technology, Insecurity and the Future of Work. Everett Program at UC Santa Cruz, October 2018.

  • Over the past 20 years, the Silicon Valley labor market has continued to be characterized by stagnating wages for many, growing inequality, and continued insecurity.
  • Over the past 20 years, economic input in Silicon Valley increased by 74 percent, but inflation-adjusted wages fell for 90 percent of jobs. Nine in 10 Silicon Valley-jobs pay lower wages than they did in the late 1990s.
  • Net job growth in the last 20 years has been disproportionately in low wage jobs, with the proportion of workers in low wage jobs increasing by 25%, while the proportion of workers in middle and upper wage jobs declined.

Soaring Rents, Falling Wages. Silicon Valley Rising, October 2018.

  • Between 2009 and 2015, the inflation-adjusted average rent for an apartment jumped by 32.2%.
  • Yet over that same time, adjusted median incomes for renters have actually declined 2.8%. Rents have risen nearly 4x faster than wages and nearly 5x faster than Social Security payments.
  • The increase in the average rent since 2009 is the equivalent of seven and a half months of groceries for a family of four.

San Mateo County’s Housing Emergency and Proposed Solutions. California Housing Partnership Coalition, April 2018.

  • San Mateo County’s lowest-income renters spend 69% of income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health care, and other essentials.
  • Renters in San Mateo County need to earn $65.29/ hour – nearly 6 times state minimum wage and more than twice the average hourly pay of a teacher, licensed nurse or carpenter – to afford the median monthly asking rent of $3,395.
  • When housing costs are considered, San Mateo County’s poverty rate rises from 7% to 16.6%.

Santa Clara County’s Housing Emergency and Proposed Solutions. California Housing Partnership Coalition, April 2018.

  • Renters in Santa Clara County need to earn $54.81/ hour – nearly four times local minimum wage – to afford the median monthly asking rent of $2,850
  • Santa Clara County’s lowest-income renters spend 62% of income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health care, and other essentials.
  • When housing costs are considered, Santa Clara County’s poverty rate rises from 7.9% to 16.2%.

Bay Area developing ambitious new tools to reduce hunger. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2018.

  • About 870,000 people in the Bay Area are food-insecure, meaning that there are as many people as the entire population of San Francisco who do not always know the source of their next meal. Most are working families and senior citizens who are struggling to eat in the region due to a variety of factors.

Housing Stability and Family Health: An Issue Brief. Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, SEP 2018.

  • Bay Area households that can comfortably afford their housing spend almost five times as much on healthcare and a third more on food than their severely cost burdened peers.

Bay Area’s stark gaps between haves and have-nots. Louis Hansen, The Mercury News, June 16, 2018.

  • The typical maintenance worker in San Jose earned $7,500 less than needed to meet basic needs, while service workers, including child care and personal trainers, came in $10,000 short annually.

Kids in our area are also experiencing food insecurity, which has been shown to increase hospitalizations, poor health, iron deficiency, and behavior problems like aggression, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. College students are also at risk and struggle to learn without the nutritious food they need.

2018 Silicon Valley Index. Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, February 2018.

  • More than a third of Silicon Valley students ages 5-17 receive free or reduced price school meals.

San Jose State University: SJSU Cares: Get Assistance: Food and Hunger. September 11, 2018.

  • A recent San Jose State University survey found that approximately half of SJSU students are sometimes skipping meals due to cost.

Housing Stability and Family Health: An Issue Brief. Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, SEP 2018.

  • Caregivers of young children in low-income, unstable housing are twice as likely than those in stable housing to be in fair or poor health, and they are almost three times more likely to report depressive symptoms. Children under age four in these families had almost a 20% increased risk of hospitalization and over a 25% increased risk of developmental delay.

Nutritious meals matter. Households that lack proper nutrition can be caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, food insecurity and poor health. Fresh produce, lean protein and other healthy foods are expensive and sometimes hard to get. The lack of access to nutrient-rich foods is hurting those who can’t afford them. Without nutritious food, adults face higher rates of diseases like diabetes, and seniors risk malnutrition. 

Santa Clara County Public Health: The Impact of Diabetes.

  • 1 out of 10 Santa Clara County adults, or 10%, say they have been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • 684,000 Santa Clara County adults are estimated to have prediabetes – that is about 1 out of 2 adults in Santa Clara County.

San Mateo County: All Better Together: Adults with Diabetes.

  • 1% of San Mateo County adults are diabetic.
By |2019-01-02T23:51:06+00:00December 21st, 2018|News and Updates, Research, Resources|