Jun 3, 2010 11:39 PM by Ariel Wesler
Hunger is a growing problem along the Central Coast. Many people are out of a job while others are working but still don't make enough to feed their families.
The San Luis Obispo County Foodbank Coalition says need has grown by 25 percent in the last year. An estimated 40,000 residents don't know where they'll get their next meal. A large number of those residents are seniors on a fixed income and children.
For many students at Del Mar Elementary School in Morro Bay, hunger hits home.
"44 percent of our families qualify for our free and reduced lunch program," said Del Mar Principal Janet Gould.
The school recently started a program, where kids could pick up a backpack full of food for themselves, but organizers quickly realized the need was greater. Working with the San Luis Obispo County Foodbank, they are now able to feed entire families.
"They can walk up and walk away with a box that's too heavy to carry. I mean, the apologies that I gave on that day were sorry, that the box is so heavy," said Ginger Hendrix, a parent volunteer.
A hefty box filled with everything from rice and beans to canned goods and fresh bread.
"Stuff that has actual food in it and the preservative list isn't longer than the ingredients list," Hendrix said.
Qualifying is as simple as signing up and picking up the food
"When they come and pick their children up from school or when they get off work later that evening, they can come and pick up a box of food right here," Gould said.
Right here, where you might least expect it.
"People assume that hunger happens way way way far out of town, and that's it really not in our county and surely not in our happy little beach towns," Hendrix said.
It's food that does far more than crush hunger, it also opens minds.
"Healthy children that come to school well-fed our more prepared to learn," Gould said.
and that's a lot of food for thought.
So far, 25 families have signed up for the Food Box program, but the school expects those numbers to increase.
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