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Brewed Awakening discusses food banks

Research regarding a survey of the food bank population within San Diego was discussed in the Brewed Awakening conference on Feb. 11 in the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute. Researcher Lynn Reaser explained their results and gave audience members ideas for helping those in need of food. There were 42 members in attendance.

The purpose of the survey was to understand the various factors that drive people’s need for food assistance. The researchers discussed the key characteristics that define the families who receive food from food banks in San Diego and around the world. The survey, which an educated on various ways through which they can make a difference in the lives of the men, women and children who accept provisions from food pantries.

“Donate to the Food Bank’s annual food drive.” said Reaser in an email to the Point Weekly. “See assistance to the homeless and needy, such as helping out at Thanksgiving or Christmas, not just as a one-time event. Rather, befriend and establish relationships with people needing help and support them with a longer term commitment.”

Reaser was the principle investigator and primary author of the study. She oversaw the research of the study and guided its components into a comprehensive analysis of the San Diego Food Bank Population.

“It takes some wisdom, skill, and work to feed a household – even with help from a pantry.” said Patricia Leslie, a researcher in the survey, via email. “And there are challenges to being able to safely store and use the foods that are donated. And not all households are alike — what ‘works’ for some will not work for others…especially when we consider the elderly, children, or people who are homeless, allergic, or on restricted diets.”

According to the study, the households that receive food assistance are typically large, with as many as five members. However, many of the households are smaller in size. These are usually comprised of one or two seniors. The study also states that over one-third of the households receiving assistance do not have wage earners. Nearly half of these people have been unable to find a job for more than two years.

This is the first comprehensive study of the food bank population of San Diego County. According to its researchers the study seeks to further people’s understanding of the difficulties that people needing food assistance are faced with every day, and to comprehend the various factors that drive that need. The study also advises those who are better off to help in any way they can. The survey’s executive summary of its findings offers a variety of ways through which the cycle of poverty, health problems, and dependency that exists due to people’s reliance on food assistance can be broken or alleviated.

The executive summary presented at the event stated that some the “solutions, [to] over time reduce their reliance on assistance include: programs to broker job opportunities and training; tutoring and mentoring for children; programs to teach financial planning and budgeting; education in “smart shopping” for food and grocery items; and instruction in nutrition, healthy eating, and meal preparation.”