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New food insecurity index shows where insecurity is highest in Monterey County

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) The latest food insecurity index released by Conduit Healthy Communities shows which parts of Monterey County have the highest levels of food insecurity.

According to the index, Soledad is the highest, followed by King City and other agricultural communities.

Maria Moreno, a Chualar resident, typically takes care of children for a living but the pandemic has made that impossible. Several households only have one parent working while the other one stays at home taking care of their children, she said. 

"There are a lot of people here who are in need,” said Moreno. “And then when you have only one parent working, it's just not enough for the family to pay rent, electricity, and all that."

According to the Food Bank for Monterey County, 34% of county residents and 66% of farmworkers are food insecure. Monterey County Supervisor Wendy Root Askew said there is a real need for food insecurity advocacy at the county level. It's important to make sure that the limited funds are going towards feeding families healthy meals, she said. 

"Being able to raise your child without hunger and food insecurity,” said Supervisor Wendy Root Askew. “That is the ongoing issue we need to continue to remain committed to."

Many struggling families live off the ag and hospitality industries that have been most impacted by the pandemic, she said.  Combine that with these jobs being mostly seasonal and you have families unable to afford to pay rent, bills, or buy groceries.

"You're working hard and you deserve to have food on your table,” said Supervisor Wendy Root Askew. “You  deserve to have food over your head and the county is here to help fill those gaps for you."

Melissa Kendrick, Executive Director of Food Bank Monterey County said before the pandemic they were serving one in four children in the county. But now they're serving one in three children. She also said that in one program alone they began to serve sixty thousand families monthly, an increase from 13 thousand families being served pre-pandemic.  

"We started this off by saying well one of the reasons why we're in one of the hungriest counties is because we're an ag and hospitality-based community,”: said Kendrick. “But on the positive working with the ag community, we can be one of the healthiest."

Families who are struggling to put food on their table are encouraged to take advantage of these food banks and other resources available. People can call 211 and speak to a representative to get the help needed.

Monterey County / Top Stories
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Jonathan Sarabia

Jonathan is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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