The many faces of hunger in San Diego

An elderly woman receiving food during a donation program organized by Feeding San Diego

An elderly woman receiving food during a donation program organized by Feeding San Diego

"1 in 5 children in San Diego struggle with hunger".

I was literally without words when I first read it. Let's step back and process that information for a second. 1 in 5 children in San Diego struggle with hunger. I've always known that the United States is far more unequal than the official and international propaganda tries to makes us believe, but I could never have imagined that here in San Diego, one of the richest cities in the country, such shocking number could be found.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the economy in California: "The economy of California is large enough to be comparable to that of the largest of countries. As of 2016, the gross state product (GSP) was about $2.514 trillion, the largest in the United States. California is responsible for 13.9 percent of the United States' approximate $18.1 trillion gross domestic product (GDP). California's GSP is larger than the GDP of all but 5 countries in dollar terms (the United States, China, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom), larger than Brazil, France, Russia, Italy, India, Canada, Australia, Spain and Turkey. In Purchasing Power Parity, it is larger than all but 10 countries (the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Brazil, France, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia), larger than Italy, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Turkey." 

Considering these impressive numbers, I could never have thought that inequality and economic disparity would be so bad here.

I came across this statistic while searching on the Internet for organizations I could cooperate with. That was when and how I found out about Feeding San Diego

"Feeding more than 63,000 children, families and seniors every week, Feeding San Diego relies on the generous support of individuals, corporations, foundations and community groups to sustain our critical hunger-relief and nutrition programs throughout the region. Through our highly organized distribution model, every dollar donated turns into four meals for an individual in need. In addition, 95 percent of donations directly fund hunger-relief programs."

According to their latest Hunger in America Report, published every four years, these are some revealing numbers about hunger in San Diego:

Demographics

  • 26% of those served by surveyed programs are under the age of 18, 10% are under 5
  • 9.5% are over the age of 60
  • 49% are Hispanic or Latino, 27% are White, 5% are Black or African American, and the rest are from other racial groups
  • 15% of households have at least one veteran (previously served in the military)

Employment & Income

  • 64% of households include a member who has worked for pay in the last 12 months, 38% in the last four weeks
  • Of individuals who worked most in a household, 27% worked over 40 hours per week
  • 58% of households have a monthly income of less than $1,000
  • 70% of households have incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level

Health

  • 24% of households have a member in poor health
  • 32% of households have a member with diabetes
  • 40% of households lack health insurance of any kind (including Medicaid)

Living Situation

  • 78% of households are living in non-temporary housing, such as houses and apartments
  • 20% of households do not have access to a stove, microwave or hot plate and 24% do not have access to refrigeration

Making Tough Choices

  • 53% choose between paying for food and medicine or medical care
  • 54% choose between paying for food and utilities
  • 39% choose between paying for food and housing
  • 57% choose between paying for food and transportation
  • 27% choose between paying for food and education

Stretching Dollars

  • 49% eat food past its expiration date
  • 45% sell or pawn personal property
  • 67% purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food
  • 35% water down food or drinks
  • 18% grow food in a garden

Again, these numbers are appalling!

Discovering the harsh reality so many face here, I was obviously motivated to offer my help.

Not only I am now voluntarily photographing their activities, I am also donating 50% of each print sale to support their extremely vital programs.  

If you also want to offer your help, please click here

I believe it's about time we come together and work together on the construction of a more equal and sustainable society, one in which wealth and quality of life are not a privilege to a very few at the cost of so many.

Many say Socialism and Communism have never worked. Perhaps they are right. But how about Capitalism? Could we really say it has worked? Perhaps so. But just for a minority. In the Capitalism game, many have to lose so a few can win.

We can do better than that.

Bernardo Salce