How food insecurity has been affecting Kern County

August 30, 2022 / , and

“Food insecurity is classified by Feeding America as someone who has not been able to decide when the next meal is coming for a certain period of time. If you do not know when your food is coming or if you’re not certain where your next meal is coming from then you are experiencing food insecurity,” said James Burger, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator at Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK). 

CAPK operates Kern County’s central food bank and distributes about 23 million pounds of food a year through their relationships with their 150 partner groups in every corner of Kern County. They bring their food in through their contracts, resources, and donations, and then they distribute that out to the 150 partners who are then given to communities in need of food access. 

“We are seeing through the CAPK food bank a clear increase in the demand that people across the country are experiencing for food. We are getting more calls into our 211 center. More people are showing up at the distributions that we do through the food bank and our partners are telling us that they are seeing an increased demand for food and they are asking us to help by providing additional food and we are in the process of doing that,” said Burger.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CAPK witnessed an increase in the demand for food. In 2019, CAPK delivered around 23 million pounds of food to residents in Kern County’s communities. In 2020, however, a 40 percent increase in the demand for food led to more food deliveries from CAPK. 

Following the pandemic, the demand for food decreased but this year CAPK is expecting to experience another high increase in demand.

“A lot of people in Kern County and across the nation are experiencing inflation impacting the cost of food as it is impacting other areas of our economy,” said Burger. “Food is such a need that it is worrying not being able to see enough people afford enough food to take care of themselves and their families.”

Kern Sol News was able to ask residents throughout Kern County if they’ve been impacted by the rising cost of food and this is what they had to say:

“The price of food has gone up way too much. It’s hard for me because I work in the fields and I don’t work all Saturdays anymore so that is one less day of work which means less money in my paycheck. Sometimes what I make isn’t enough to cover food and other expenses, so it is a bit difficult when the prices keep going up. I remember buying milk for about $3.00 and now I spend about $4.00. I used to buy about 15 items for about $30.00 and now the total comes out to $55.00 for the same products.”

  • Maria Cardenas

“With the cost of food rising it has made food shopping more difficult. Normally my family and I would be able to go into a store and spend roughly $400 on groceries and it would last all month. Now with the prices going up, we will be lucky to have the little bit of food we can afford to get us to last all month. Before prices started to rise, we would be able to go into the store and walk out with two shopping carts full of food. Now we are lucky to even get one basket full. We have started to budget so that way we can stretch the food we are able to get.”

  • Monica Garcia

“Grocery shopping has been so much more difficult since the price of everything started rising. The total cost of my groceries has gone up while the amount of food I’m able to purchase continues to go down. It’s been hard making sure my household has enough food to be able to last between checks.”

  • Brianna Miller 

“It seems like the cost of food just keeps increasing now and it’s getting much harder to be able to purchase everything I need. I had to get a second job just to be able to continue to grocery shop comfortably and take care of my family. If prices continue to go up like they have, I don’t know how anyone will be able to survive.”

  • Heidi Williams

“I’ve been noticing that products are fewer than they once were. Shrinkflation is tried and true. And it doesn’t pertain to just food items. Dove soap bars have fallen from 4oz to a measly 3.17oz. Price alone doesn’t tell the whole story and it’s a shame how companies try to sneak these practices under consumer’s noses.”

  • Ezra Polanski

Shrinkflation is the practice of reducing the size of a product while maintaining its sticker price. Raising the price per given amount is a strategy employed by companies, mainly in the food and beverage industries, to stealthily boost profit margins or maintain them in the face of rising input costs.

According to James Burger, Kern County has historically high rates of food insecurity, but there are various ways to try to help those who are experiencing food insecurity. Combating food insecurity can be done by taking the following actions:

  • Call 211 to let CAPK know what areas in the community are in need of food insecurity
  • Be a volunteer for CAPK. More information can be found at CAPKs volunteer page website.
  • Donate money to provide more food to those in need. For every dollar donated, 7 pounds of food is donated. 

CAPK accepts monetary and food donations and drop-offs between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

“We are definitely seeing an increase in food insecurity and the need for food in our communities,” said Burger.

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