The Stockton Emergency Food Bank has seen a 27% increase in families this year compared to last year
STOCKTON, Calif. — Once a month, Orlando Holmes of Stockton pulls up in his SUV to get basic food necessities with his trusty dog Titus by his side.
Homeless for a year, he said it will last him for two weeks, and with food stamps, it helps him survive.
At the Stockton Emergency Food Bank on West Scotts Avenue near downtown, demand continues to increase at a stunning rate.
In 2019, pre-pandemic, 124,000 families in San Joaquin County used the food bank, however, that number is now 285,000. Demand over last year has soared by 27%.
“It’s people who are working every day, especially people who are working at minimum wage or around there. They’re working 40 hours a week, but it just doesn’t stretch anymore,” said Leonard Hansen, CEO of the Stockton Emergency Food Bank.
During the height of the pandemic, the food bank would average 270 cars a day. Now with record inflation, that number is 350 cars a day.
“It’s more acute than even in the pandemic. People today are choosing between paying the rent and buying food. It just doesn’t fit, and we already started with one in five Californians having food insecurity. It’s worse than it was then,” Hansen said.
63-year-old Cheryl Orello of Stockton comes to the food bank twice a month.
“It helps me a lot because I’m on widow’s benefits, and I’m waiting for a liver transplant,” Orello said.
To make it all happen, it takes a large number of volunteers like Christian Anaya. He brings along a group of mentally ill volunteers to help integrate them into the community.
“They kind of feel left out so we try to fix that… we bring them into different volunteer sites. This is actually our main one,” Anaya said.
If you would like to donate, the food bank is looking for “nutrition dense” canned foods like green beans, corn, refried beans, peanut butter and canned meats like tuna. Of course, they will also accept cash donations.
To donate to any number of food banks in our viewing area, go to www.abc10.com/standagainsthunger.
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