Hunger in the Bay Area – and How You Can Help


Hunger is a serious problem in the Bay Area…
• Nearly 1.2 million people in the Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties) are living near the poverty line, at risk of going hungry. According to census figures, these people are making less than $26,000 for a family of 3.
• The California Budget Project estimates that a family needs to make more than twice that amount – at least $53,000 – in order to make ends meet in the Bay Area. People who can’t get by often give up food to pay for vital expenses like medicine, or fixed expenses like rent.
• 50% of the people Bay Area food banks serve are children – and many live in working poor families.

The current economy is making things even worse…
• In addition to the region’s high cost of living, food and fuel prices have skyrocketed over the past year. Higher food and energy prices have put many more families into crisis, and they’ve had to turn to Food Banks to get the basics. Seniors on fixed incomes have been severely impacted, too.
• Nationally, eggs have increased 34% and white bread 15%, while milk prices in California have climbed 30% in the past year.  According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, gasoline prices in the Bay Area have gone up 36.4% in the past year.
• On top of dramatically higher food prices, the economic downturn has put even more families at risk of going hungry. All six Bay Area food banks are seeing increased numbers of clients in need, with longer lines at our grocery pantries. People often stand in line for hours to get food.

Government resources have been cut, making private donations crucial…
• Allotments of basic foods like rice, beans, and protein items from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Bay Area food banks have dropped 50% in the last 5 years – from over 14 million pounds in 2003 to just 7 million in 2008.

How the 6 Bay Area food banks help…

• Every day, Bay Area food banks source, collect, sort, inspect and repackage hundreds of thousands of pounds of food. The food comes from supermarket chains, large manufacturers, wholesalers, produce packers and growers, restaurant suppliers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and food drives.
• Last year Bay Area Food banks distributed 96 million pounds of food into their communities, this year they are distributing over 102 million pounds of food – up more than 6%.
• This year Bay Area Food banks will distribute enough food for 219,000 meals every day. It goes out to neighborhood grocery pantries, soup kitchens, programs that serve homebound seniors, and more.

Here’s how you can help…
• For every comment this post receives indicating it has been read, Tyson Foods will donate 100 pounds of high-quality protein (up to a total of 200,000 pounds) to the six Bay Area food banks. Help us fill the trucks! Comment here (even one-word comments acceptable. One comment per visitor, please.  NOTE: Since our comments are moderated, it might take a bit to get them up, but we WILL get them up). To prevent spam, the comment form asks for an email address. Tyson will NOT harvest these emails or use them in any way whatsoever.

• Visit the website of your nearest food bank to learn more about how you can donate, volunteer and advocate to help end hunger where you live:
San Francisco Food Bank
Alameda Community Food Bank
Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz & San Benito Counties
Redwood Empire Food Bank
Many thanks to the Bay Area food bloggers who took on the San Francisco Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge. Without the attention they brought to this issue, Tyson’s donation would not have happened.

UPDATE!!!! As of Thursday, Oct. 2, less than one week after we began the effort, we reached our goal of 2000 comments, meaning ALL 200,000 pounds will be delivered to Bay Area Food Banks!  In fact, as of this writing, some of the food has already been delivered.  THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR EFFORTS!


Since 2000, Tyson Foods has been actively involved in the fight against hunger, contributing more than 53 million pounds of food to hunger and disaster relief.  This site will tell you more about the company’s ongoing efforts. 

This just in: We’ve had quite a few requests from commenters that we send some vegetarian items.  While we’re primarily a  meat protein company, we do make pizza crust.  We’re sending along  a bit of that.

An exciting change for a very important partner



Vicki Escarra–President and CEO, Feeding America

Starting September 2008, America’s Second Harvest will become Feeding America. This new name best conveys our mission—providing food to Americans living with hunger—and will be supported through expansive public outreach campaigns that will raise awareness of domestic hunger and our work.

Despite a 30-year legacy of fighting hunger, America’s Second Harvest has been confronted with low awareness among the general public, and a broader misunderstanding of domestic hunger. Knowing that true, monumental progress can be made when the public is fully engaged in our cause, we have researched how we can best inspire people. We found that the name America’s Second Harvest was limiting and that a new name was needed to quickly and clearly convey our mission.

Our new name, Feeding America, directly conveys that we are providing access to food for people who need it.  It also communicates the positive power of food to be a catalyst in people’s lives.  In essence, “feeding” serves as a double meaning—both providing food and enriching lives. A careful migration strategy is underway to ensure that all key stakeholders and audiences understand that America’s Second Harvest is now Feeding America.   Be sure to visit us at

Hunger in Austin–Something you can do to help

Information from the website of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

Did you know

Making Ends Meet  

  • 76% of households receiving assistance from CAFB Partner Agencies report incomes below the federal poverty level. (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest)
  • 106,930 (12.6%) of Travis County individuals live below the Federal poverty level ($18,850 for a family of four). (Source: Austin Community Survey, 2004)
  • The annual income needed for a Travis County family of four without employee sponsored health insurance to "afford" to live in the Austin area is $53,080. That’s 257% above the Federal poverty level. (Source:, The Family Budget Estimator Project)
  • Austin continues to have the highest cost of living in the state of Texas, exceeding housing costs in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth.
    Those Served are Younger
  • While the child poverty rate in Texas is 23.2%, for the CAFB service area, 35% of the household members receiving food are children. (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest)
  • While 12.4% of Texans in poverty are elderly, only 7% of households receiving food through CAFB are elderly. (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest

Working Poor

  • Approximately 200,000, or 20%, of Travis County residents are classified as "working poor" by the Texas Department of Human Services.  (Source: Basic Needs Coalition, 2005)
  • Between 2000 and 2003, the number of households in Travis County increased by 23,274, the majority of which (21,822 households) fell in the lowest three income brackets having an annual income of $24,999 or less.
    Who’s Serving Our Hungry?
  • Of Food Bank Partner Agencies, 71% of pantries and 37% of the soup kitchens are run by faith-based agencies.
  • 59% of Partner Agency pantries and 12% of soup kitchens are entirely volunteer run with no paid staff.
  • CAFB is by far the most important source of food for its Partner Agencies, accounting for 76% of food for pantries and 38% for soup kitchens.
    (Source: Hunger in America 2006: Central Texas Report, in association with America’s Second Harvest)


No matter where you are, the statistics about hunger in your own community are just as compelling.

Find out how you can be a part of the great work of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas and their mission of ending hunger in central Texas by visiting their site.  

Here’s something you can do today:  For every comment this post receives indicating it has been read, Tyson Foods will donate 100 pounds of food (up to a 35K pound truckload) to the HAM-up (Tweetup), sponsored by the Food Bank, Social Media Club Austin and 501 Tech Club Austin.  Help us fill the truck.  Comment here (even one-word comments acceptable–BTW, since our comments are moderated, it might take a bit to get them up, but I WILL get them up).

 UPDATE–The response from the online community has been awesome. From your response, we were able to fill the truck in less than six hours.  THANKS!!!!

A Hero of the Iowa Floods–by Vicki Escarra


By Vicki Escarra–President and CEO of America’s Second Harvest, the Nation’s Food Bank Network
This past June, after Midwest flooding had reached residents all along the Cedar River, I visited the Northeast Iowa Food Bank—our member food bank in Waterloo, Iowa—to assess our recovery efforts. I travelled all through the affected areas and couldn’t believe the damage that was left in the aftermath of the floods. Residents told me it was the worst flooding they had ever seen. It was during these travels that I had the privilege of meeting one very heroic individual—Steve Mitchell, the Fire Chief for the Fire Department in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

When I met him, he was in the midst of operating an emergency-relief center for flood victims, which he had set-up in partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank at a nearby elementary school. It was his idea to turn the school into an emergency-relief center, and he did everything in his power to make it a powerful resource for flood victims. As the waters began to rise, Steve had gone door to door notifying residents in areas that he and his firefighters knew were at risk of flooding. Then, as the flooding worsened, he and his fellow firefighters traveled by boat to rescue those who were stranded. His compassion was truly remarkable.

The need for emergency food always immediately follows a natural disaster. Steve’s relief center was open for 10 days, for up to 12 hours a day, and served food, water and cleaning supplies to nearly 5,000 people from more than five cities. With his dedication and the support of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, he helped those men, women, and families survive incredibly difficult times. Please join me in thanking Steve, and the countless other brave volunteers across the country, who give everything they have to help people in need.