Food Banks See Surge In Demand As Jobless Rate Rises

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The president of the Sacramento Food Bank says interest in their services is way up.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook everyday.”
Blake Young says they’ve seen a 35% increase over the past year in the number of people asking for food.  
“…and what’s interesting to note is that increase is mainly new families seeking services with our organization.”
Young says those new families are dealing with a variety of issues.  
“We see a lot of working poor people, people furloughed - state employees are now seeking services, and a lot of families that had a one income household that was even fairly robust a lot of people are losing those as well.”
In Stockton, officials at San Joaquin County’s Emergency Food Bank say they’ve had a 22% increase in the number of people seeking food. Spokeswoman Kristine Gibson says they do have enough food to feed everyone but getting it from the distribution companies has been a challenge.
“We’re definitely not seeing the food donations that we were a year ago. Companies are making cuts. They’re not ordering as much food from their suppliers so that they don’t have to take a loss.”  
And in Woodland, Jose Martinez with Yolo County’s Food Bank says demand for free food is also on the rise. But he expects it to get even higher when the agricultural industry begins laying off farm workers in a few months.
“They employ hundreds of people but it’s a seasonal thing. So I expect in November/December when they’re finished with the processing of tomatoes that the increase will jump up.” 
California’s unemployment rate hit 12.2% last month…the highest rate in modern record-keeping. Martinez says he’s already getting calls from people asking if his food bank will be offering turkeys for Thanksgiving this year. The answer – probably.