Food insecurity is an issue that is all too familiar to local organizations faced with providing sustenance for needy residents. December 2014/January 2015 49 “My grandparents were born in Italy. It was truly the American Dream. I’m number eight out of nine children. And even though we always had a roof over our heads, and I never knew anything different, there were times when we had plenty of food and times when we didn’t have plenty of food, and I just thought that was normal growing up,” she explains. “We didn’t know the term for it, but it’s ‘food insecurity.’ We had food at the beginning of the week; by the end of the week it was gone.” Her father put himself through medical school. Her mother, a high school graduate, launched and managed a successful nursing home business, which cared for and healed her husband’s patients. Somehow Zimmermann’s parents juggled building careers and raising nine children, but often in those types of situations food is “the first thing that gets cut, especially when you’re trying to feed an enormous family.” Food insecurity is an issue that is all too familiar to local organizations faced with providing sustenance for needy residents. In its most recent Hunger Index in 2012, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties counted 260,000 “vulnerable households,” where the combined income is $50,000 a year or less. That’s in stark contrast to the $90,000 a year the California Budget Project estimates was needed in 2012 for a family of three to be self-sufficient in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The gap resulted in an estimated annual 204 “missing meals,” a 4 percent increase over the previous year. Food agency managers agree that new figures due out in January will show an even greater number of missing meals, leading to higher instances of food insecurity. According to Zimmermann, the Loaves & Fishes’ program—using mostly food from Second Harvest—gives its guests a respite from food insecurity, with dinners served in San Jose every weekday at the Goodwill headquarters and the Eastside Neighborhood Center and at Saint Maria Goretti Parish on Wednesdays and Fridays. The agency offers a monthly Grocery Bag Program at the parish, as well as special programs for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Cinco de Mayo and back-to-school. Additionally, its Delivery Meal Service brings no-cost meals to partner agencies, like Recovery Café, the Mexcian American Community Services Agency (MACSA) and InnVision Shelter Network. “What makes me happy is I can help people a little bit with a hot meal, a nutritious meal,” Zimmermann says. “They’re getting a beautifully balanced, homecooked meal for free every day with no questions asked. These are people working two, three jobs or senior citizens on fixed incomes.” In some cases, Zimmermann says, the food provided by Loaves & Fishes may ultimately determine the life trajectory of its guests. “Sometimes you just need a little help, a little nudge, and it changes the direction of the whole family.” COURTESY OF LOAVES & FISHES (3) Hot meals await twice a week for children and others who gather at St. Maria Goretti parish.
South Bay Accent - Dec 2014/Jan 2015
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