SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As Placer Food Bank volunteers and workers usher through the line of cars to distribute the much-needed food, 11-year-old Abigail Ortega and her mother Juana Rodriguez said the current economic climate had much to do with why they were in line.
“We love it because it’s very important to our family because of the inflation. All the food prices are rising up,” Ortega said, translating for her mother.
Thankfully for Rodriguez and Californian families, the latest figures from the federal government show inflation is at its lowest point since early 2021 and could decline further, according to economists.
The need though not only spurred by inflation, but because of summer break, families are now having to supply the meals kids usually get at school — something Rodriguez said can be tough.
“On top of it, all kids are not at school,” Ortega said, translating for her mother. “The food runs out a lot quicker because we don’t go to school anymore.”
The Placer County Food Bank reports it is likely to surpass 10 million pounds of food distributed this year, which their director of development and communications, Lisa Heinrich, said will be 2 million pounds more than last year.
“It shows that hunger is alive and well, sadly in our community,” Heinrich said. “Since the pandemic, we have a saying around the food bank, ‘We could all be one job loss, one illness or one natural disaster away from needing food assistance.’”
Heinrich said more than 2 million children in California rely on free or reduced-price school meals during the academic year, adding that there is no conventional type of family in need in this day-and-age.
“One of the fastest growing segments of those needing food assistance that are not food-insecure, but they need food assistance, is the middle class,” Heinrich said.
Back at the food drive, the fresh produce Rodriguez said her three children can get is a godsend but still noted that she looks forward to knowing school returns soon.
“She prays that next month can come a little faster so we can get food,” Ortega said, translating for her mother.
Until that time, Rodriguez said even though it’s not always easy to find time to get to the food drives, she feels blessed to know there are options in these tough times.