“Since we’re an agricultural county, the need really does grow dramatically over the holidays,” said Bill Gibbs, executive director of the Merced County Food Bank. “A lot of families rely on that [field] work for their entire income so when the work stops for the season, the need grows.”
Located behind the Walmart in North Merced, the 30,000-square-foot food warehouse serves more than 100 nonprofit agencies throughout the county. These “customers” oversee a variety of smaller food pantries, brown-bag programs and emergency food centers which distribute groceries directly to those in need.
Meat is part of our local culture; it’s a part of everyday life. Some of my friends and lots of other people around here have grown up raising animals for meat. So learning how to express my thoughts on vegetarianism to friends while still respecting the way they grew up is challenging for me. I often draw on my own personal experience.
In 2009, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – commonly known as food stamps — by 13.6 percent, as a way to bring relief to struggling Americans during the economic recession. But on November 1 of this year the increase expired, returning SNAP benefits to to pre-recession levels. The program cut will affect roughly 4 million Californians, many of them young people. We’Ced members discussed the importance of food assistance programs in their own lives, and how they foresee the change affecting their families.
The youth reporters found some intriguing trends, ones that didn’t always fit the stereotype of junk food-loving, soda-guzzling teenagers. Indeed, if there was one consistent theme, it was an endorsement for fresher food, tastier food, a better variety to choose from and larger portions.