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Marin IJ: Food needs of Marin's low-income residents not being met

November 13, 2012
Volunteer Nan Watanabe repackages oatmeal to be used for holiday food bags at the Marin Food Bank in Novato, Calif. on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) Alan Dep
Volunteer Nan Watanabe repackages oatmeal to be used for holiday food bags at the Marin Food Bank in Novato, Calif. on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) Alan Dep
The Marin Independent Journal reported that the food needs of low-income individuals living in Marin are not being met, as explained in this excerpt from the article:
 
"Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash said a study the food bank sponsored in 2010 with the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality found that a low-income person living in Marin is missing seven meals each week. The study examined the difference between food needs and food availability among low-income people, defined as those who earn no more than 185 percent of the 'federal poverty level.'
 
At the time of the study, a family of four earning $41,000 a year was at 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
 
Since then, Ash said the number of low-income people in Marin has increased dramatically. The number of Marin residents at 185 percent of the federal poverty level in 2010 was 43,397, or about 17 percent of the county's total population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released in September.
 
But in 2011, the number of Marin residents at that income level or lower jumped to 51,247, or 21 percent of the population. Since 2008, the number of people in Marin at 185 percent of the federal poverty level has increased by 54 percent.
 
'Over the past four years, we've had the situation that we're expanding our services but the need is growing about a fast as we're able to expand our services,' Ash said. 'We're running, but we're not getting ahead.'
 
The amount of food distributed in Marin by the food bank since the beginning of the nation's historic economic slump in 2008 has more than doubled from 2.3 million to 5.6 million pounds. That's enough food for more than 13,000 meals per day in Marin.
 
The food bank currently operates 35 food pantries in various locations throughout Marin.
 
In 2012, the food bank added six pantries in Marin to reach additional needy residents, including sites at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Corte Madera; Cornerstone Church in Sausalito; Villas at Hamilton, Garden of Eatin' and MacKey Terrace Senior Housing Complex in Novato; and a Healthy Children's Pantry at Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael.
 
Ash said the situation could be improved significantly if more Marin residents took advantage of the state's CalFresh program, formerly known as Food Stamps and federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
 
A little more than half of the people eligible for CalFresh in California are enrolled in the program; California has the lowest program participation rate of all 50 states. In Marin, only 30 percent of people eligible for CalFresh are enrolled. Within the state, Marin's CalFresh enrollment ranks 54th out of 58 counties."