Marin IJ: A time to give thanks and help others in need
November 16, 2012
The following editorial is reprinted from the Marin Independent Journal.
As we approach Thanksgiving, conversation often turns to food — what will be for dinner, when we will eat, who will be invited.
Conversely, this is a tough time for the growing number of Marin residents and families who are struggling to make ends meet.
Marin increasingly is a county of economic inequity. It has one of the highest median household incomes in the state at $83,467. Median means half the households in the county have incomes of more than that amount and half have less.
But 21 percent of Marin's population qualifies as low income. That is a family of four earning less than $41,000 a year, which is 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The number of people in Marin at that poverty benchmark has increased 54 percent since 2008 to 51,247. That's more than one in every five Marin residents.
A low-income person in Marin misses an average of seven meals a week, a 2010 study found.
Those sobering numbers are why the San Francisco Food Bank, which merged with the Marin Food Bank in January, operates 35 food pantries in Marin. And why it opened six new food pantries in the county this year, including ones in Sausalito and Corte Madera and three in Novato. And why the amount of food distributed in Marin has jumped 14 percent, from 2.3 million pounds to 5.6 million pounds, since 2008, when the Great Recession hit. That's enough food for 13,000 meals a day in this affluent county.
That's why the food bank and other groups that help those in need, need so much help. And they need help all year, not just over the holidays when the need for donations gets more publicity and attention. People are hungry all year.
The growing number of low-income families here continues to increase, even as our median household income remains the highest in California. That is a troubling trend that does not bode well for this county's future. The agencies and nonprofits that are trying to mend that growing rip in our social fabric are painfully aware that too often a basic need goes unmet — enough food.
Those in need of food assistance in Marin can call 211 and will be put in touch with the nearest food pantry or meal sites.
If you can help those in need, please do. There are many ways to help.
St. Vincent de Paul Society in San Rafael is short of turkeys for its Thanksgiving meal. Marin Boy Scouts will be going door-to-door collecting food on Saturday for the food bank.
HOW TO HELP
• Donations of nonperishable food items for the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks can be dropped off at local grocery stores that have food bank collection barrels or the Marin warehouse location, at 75 Digital Drive in Novato. A complete list of drop-off locations is available at www.marinfoodbank.org/marin-drop-off-locations.
• Marin Boy Scouts will be going door-to-door gathering donations for the food bank beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. Scouts have notified residents where they plan to collect food. The food bank's most needed food drive items include soup, chili, baked beans, canned vegetables, tuna, canned meat, cereal, peanut butter and granola bars (no glass or perishable items).
• Monetary donations: Cash donations can be made via www.marinfoodbank.org.
“The news here is the people who are in line and needing food are people who never thought that they would.”
Rev. Katharine Harts, Pastor
Fairfax Community Church
Fairfax Community Church