Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter – I am incredibly proud of the work the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano does. We are currently distributing more than 16 million pounds of food a year to approximately 149,000 people each month, and through our Community Produce Program will distribute an additional 2 million pounds of fresh produce this year, making a total of 8 million pounds.
But when I take a step back, I realize that the fact we are serving nearly 50 percent more people than we were serving six years ago demonstrates a real problem. The need for food is an indicator of larger problems we need to deal with as a community.
What gives me hope is that I see agencies and people who provide assistance coming together to work on the issues we face. Government agencies, nonprofits, schools, and foundations are part of the Solano Safety Net that is working to see how we can best combine our efforts to help our community.
At a recent meeting, we talked about the fact that the recidivism rate for parolees is 70 percent. The sheriff knows that part of that is because 40 percent of the inmates in county jail read at a fourth-grade level. They are released into a community where they have no support system and have little chance of getting a job.
Although the 70 percent rate is high, there is not yet enough public support to make a change.
We all need to collaborate to strengthen the safety net, making sure that food, shelter and services are there for people who need help.
We can also work on the bigger issues, recognizing that education and job training prevent people from needing to access the safety net.
When the community creates systems that help people provide for themselves, the safety net will be the short-term response it should be.
For ways you can help strengthen the safety net, contact Lisa Sherrill, firstname.lastname@example.org.