Hunger in Marin
Marin County is home to more than 49,000 people who worry about where their next meal will come from. Some we see, such as children who come to school without breakfast and lunch. Most are hidden among us, such as seniors and working families whose income doesn’t last the month, or the week. Hunger in Marin is a community health crisis as three troubling trends collide:
Our community of low-income residents is large and profoundly challenged by the cost of living in Marin.
- The number of low-income residents in Marin grew by 54% during the recession years of 2008-2011.1
- More than 1/3 of the families in Marin do not earn enough to make ends meet without assistance.2
- There are more than 48,000 people whose income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (=$23,544/year for an individual), a standard measure of food insecurity.3
- A 2019 update to a Stanford study showed that 1 of every 5 meals needed by our low-income residents is unaffordable.4
- More than 10,000 children in Marin live in food-insecure households.3
- 33% of all children in Marin live in households with income insufficient to meet basic needs.5
- Between 9,000 and 12,000 seniors over 60 live on less than $29,000 per year, defined as the "Self-Sufficiency Standard" in Marin.6
- In a recent survey of 3,000 seniors living below the Self-Sufficiency Standard in Marin, 46% report running out of money for food each month.7
- 3,500 seniors over 65 have annual incomes below the Federal Poverty Level of $11,670.6
- Seniors who have income between $11,670 and $29,000 don't qualify for public assistance.6
- Marin ranks 54th in income inequality out of 57 counties in the state.8
- SNAP (aka CalFresh, formerly known as "food stamps") does not come close to covering the full cost of meals for food-insecure residents in Marin County. Average maximum SNAP per-meal benefit in Marin: $1.86. Average low-income meal cost in Marin: $3.14.9
Hunger creates a "vicious cycle".10
Government support for the less fortunate continues to shrink.
On November 1, 2013, the U.S. Congress cut $4 Billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as “food stamps” and known as CalFresh in California. According to Feeding America:
- 83% of SNAP households have gross income at or below the 100% U.S. poverty guideline ($19,530 for a family of 3 in 2013).
- The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $744
- 76% of SNAP households include a child, elderly person, or disabled person
- SNAP benefits don't last the whole month. 90% of SNAP benefits are redeemed by the third week of the month.
- The average monthly SNAP benefit per person is $133.85, or less than $1.50 per person per meal.
It is heartbreaking to see men, women, and children go hungry in our community. And it is heartbreaking to see so much fresh, nutritious food go to waste.
Please join us in helping to end hunger and food waste in Marin County:
1 "Coping with Accelerating Food Needs in San Francisco and Marin," Stanford Center for Poverty and Inequality, July 2012.
2 "Making Ends Meet in Marin," First 5 Marin Children and Families Commission, December 2017.
3 2015 U.S. American Community Survey Census Data
4 "Missing Meals" in Marin," Christopher Wimer and Lucas Mansfield, SF-Marin Food Bank, January 2019.
6 2013/2014 Marin County Civil Grand Jury, "Aging in Marin: What's the Plan?"
7 Marin County Aging and Adult Services Needs Assessment, 2015.
8 "Income Inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area," Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, June 2015
9 "How Far Do SNAP Benefits Fall Short of Covering the Cost of a Meal?" Urban Institute, February 22, 2018.
10 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Sheri Weiser et al., 2011.