California’s extreme drought is impacting agriculture statewide and the San Diego Food Bank is feeling the ripple effect, with less fresh, healthy produce available to feed hungry families.
Feeding America San Diego held a media briefing Thursday to discuss local findings of the “Hunger in America 2014” study.
Leaders said drought conditions have created hardship for the San Diego Food Bank and the 370,000 people it serves each month, particularly families in agricultural communities facing unemployment.
The drought has also caused a hike in produce prices, making it more difficult for the San Diego Food Bank to obtain produce. Last year, the food bank distributed 22 million pounds of food in San Diego County, including 8 million pounds of fresh produce.
Now, amid the severe drought, that task is much harder.
Aubrey Bettencourt, executive director of the California Water Alliance, said the effects of the drought have trickled throughout the economy and state, including San Diego.
“Five billion dollars of that is right here San Diego. San Diego is the number one producer of avocados and unfortunately there isn't enough water to keep those avocado trees going,” she explained.
Bettencourt said food banks are having trouble keeping up with the increased demands of those impacted by the drought.
To help, at least for now, a large donation of fresh produce was given to the San Diego Food Bank on Thursday.
“This is a bandage on the bleed and effect of this crisis that’s affecting our state. To truly heal our state from this crisis, it’s going to require restoring the reliable water supply throughout the state,” Bettencourt said. “That is how we will fight hunger. That is how we will make healthy and nutritious food more affordable and available to the vast majority of the population.”