The governor acknowledged that the economy has played a major role in the holidays.
"This has been a very tough two years, these last two years. And because people have lost their homes, people have lost their jobs, people have lost businesses, and we've had problems with the water, we've had problems with the fires. So there are a lot of problems that have happened in California, but this is one of the good things here today, that we are sharing food and people are going out of their way to really share with people," said the governor.
The governor even took some time to prepare some bags with the volunteers. It's an effort that is part of a statewide campaign launching today through the first lady's Women's Conference Initiative to feed the hungry. The We Connect program's Million Meals Initiative donated $175,000 to help provide those one million meals to food banks statewide and then 5,000 community-based organizations will distribute it to the hungry.
First lady Shriver is in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, while the governor visited Alameda County. This is a one-time initiative to help people during the holiday season, where food will be distributed beginning this week.
The California Association of Food Banks includes 44 member banks statewide, and they all say they've seen the number of hungry increase over the last year.
"It's no surprise to anyone that many Americans have suffered greatly due to the economic crisis... and here in California, our food banks are serving over five million people every day that need food, and so the Million Meals will help us reach even more of those people," said Sue Sigler, executive director of the California Association of Food Banks.
Fresh produce is also an emphasis of many food banks, in an effort to round out people's meals and help reduce obesity by offering healthy options.
Part of the governor and the first lady's efforts go beyond the Million Meals Initiative. It includes encouraging all Californians to volunteer their time or donate food when they can, during the holiday season, and beyond.
The need is year-round, and unfortunately, the hunger problem has increased during these recessionary times.