Food insecurity a cause for concern in Winters

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Food insecurity is a widespread problem that’s felt right here in Winters and throughout Yolo County. That’s why organizations like CalFresh and Bonus Bucks are working fervently to mitigate this problem while filling stomachs with quality — and affordable — foods.

Even before the pandemic, Winters has been contending with food insecurity. Impoverished families working full-time struggle to make ends meet and putting food on the table is not always a certainty. While many lament this harsh reality of their community members, CalFresh and Bonus Bucks project director Soua Moua and her staff are opting to be the change that so many idly hope for.

“Food insecurity is the uncertainty of not having access to food regularly. To healthy and nutritious food as well. For us, that’s our daily grind. We do CalFresh and see people who have that need and it really is income-based,” said Moua. “It’s the lack of resources and income to make sure that your food needs are met. So, that’s sort of the lens that we see food insecurity through. It doesn’t paint the entire picture of food insecurity and all of the things that play into that. I know in Yolo County with the rural communities we have is also access. Even if you have the income, do you have transportation to get to the store, or even have a store that’s close enough to provide for that need?”

Lack of income is amongst the wide variety of contributing factors to food insecurity. According to Moua, there’s reasons across the board including homelessness, people’s ability to properly store and prepare food and even the elderly and their physical/mental capability of addressing their food needs on their own. Of course, there’s also the looming factor of inflation to consider as well.

“With the pandemic we know that the cost of food has skyrocketed. The purchasing power of your CalFresh dollars or non-CalFresh dollars has really gone down with the rising cost of food. Whether you’re a working household or not, it’s just a huge hit to your budget,” said Moua. “The Consumer Price Index shows that the cost of food rose 12.2 percent from June 2021 – June 2022. In the two decades prior to COVID, the annual average was 2 percent.”

For those eligible, Bonus Bucks allows one to shop at participating retailers. One then selects eligible fruit and vegetable items and then gives the cashier a Bonus Bucks discount card and CalFresh EBT card. After that, the items selected will receive a discount at check-out by 50 percent up to $30 per month.

While stigmas are attached to using programs such as CalFresh and Bonus Bucks, Moua believes ridding them will be a great step toward combating food insecurity in not only Winters and Yolo County, but the country as well.

To learn more about food insecurity, Bonus Bucks and CalFresh, visit yolocounty.org and search ‘Bonus Bucks’ or ‘CalFresh’ for more information.

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