This year, Santa Clara County and the food bank Second Harvest of Silicon Valley are collaborating to highlight hunger and food insecurity in the region.
The effort is part of Hunger Action Month, a national awareness campaign held every September in which community members and leaders team up in the fight against hunger.
Despite the vast wealth existing in the Bay Area, skyrocketing rent and living costs paired with stagnant wages have cornered many residents into cutting back on their food budgets, from full-time workers supporting a family to local college students skipping meals to save costs.
According to the California Housing Partnership Coalition, renters would need to earn $54.81 per hour nearly four times the minimum wage to afford the median monthly rent in Santa Clara County in 2018.
One in four people in Silicon Valley are at risk of hunger, according to Second Harvest, and the number continues to rise: Since 2007, demand for meals has increased by 46%.
Last year, Second Harvest distributed over 55 million meals to people across San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
"No one in Santa Clara County should be going to bed with an empty stomach," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. "Children are more likely to face food insecurity than any other group and in one of the nation's greatest food-producing areas we must work together to make sure they are participating in food assistance programs, staying healthy and thriving."
As part of Hunger Action Month, the county said it aims to promote the expansion of the state's CalFresh program, which for the first time in 40 years now allows Social Security recipients to obtain benefits.
People who qualify for the program for the first time receive $128 per month on average in grocery benefits, according to the county.
Second Harvest is also encouraging community members to participate in the campaign to end hunger by volunteering with the food bank or donating at shfb.org.
"Our goal is to end hunger in Santa Clara County," said Robert Menicocci, director of the county Social Services Agency. "It requires an entire community, working together to help raise awareness and connect those who are food insecure with the food resources available to them."