The Working Poor
Someone working full time, year-round at the current minimum wage earns just over $16,600, pre-tax — which puts an individual with just one dependant below the poverty level. With this in mind, it is easy to see why the working poor is one of the largest groups relying on emergency food services in our community. Learn more below about our city’s working poor with key statistics and stories from the people we help.
- 27.6% of clients stated that employment was the main source of household income in the previous month. (Food Bank Hunger in America study, 2010)
- 86.5% of all clients had income below 130% of the federal poverty level during the previous month. Some of our programs allow up to 185% of the federal poverty level or $35,328 per year for a 3 person household. (Food Bank Hunger in America study, 2010)
- 1 in 3 of all clients had to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage at some point during the year. (Food Bank Hunger in America study, 2010)
Read stories below from low-income individuals and families who have received assistance through the Food Bank’s programs and services. Real names are not used.
Jessica, CalWORKS participant
Jessica, a stay at home mom, quickly became a single mom with two children after she escaped an abusive husband. For four months last year she lived on WIC and $40 in cash. WIC was a life saver that allowed her to make simple meals but also provided fresh fruits and veggies to feed her children. The food she receives from the Food Bank helps stock her pantry. “These programs are vital,” she says. She’s not looking for lifelong help, just enough to get on her feet and go back to school so she can get a job to support her kids. Right now as part of the CalWORKS program requirement she is working 21 hours a week, but is basically working to pay for a babysitter for her 5 and 7 year olds. She is grateful for the work and experience but is looking forward her future and a new career.
Ruby, Food Assistance recipient
Ruby is a single working mother of two children. She just recently started going to our Food Assistance Program distribution and it is helping her a lot. Ruby says, “The food from here helps my money go further especially the canned food and bread.”
Patricia, Food Assistance recipient
Patricia has been cleaning house but barely made $500 last month. Normally a book-keeper, she can’t find work and has been out of work since last October. This was her first visit to the Food Assistance Program. Her son works but he is a full-time student so he can’t really contribute to her household. She told us that she is excited about the bread. “I haven’t had bread in weeks. I get shampoo from fast food restaurants by squirting what hand soap I can into a cup. I get napkins from fast food places to use as tissue. I am an educated woman. I don’t do drugs. I am finding myself in a weird spot. These are tough times.”