The demand is especially high when school is out. A lot of kids get their free meals at school, and when school is out their parents have to rely on the food banks.
Middle school students from San Leandro sorted out food at the local food bank Tuesday. Alongside them were several Oakland Raiders advising them to stay in school while highlighting the problem of hunger in their community.
"I'm the type of person who likes to change the world in some type of way, so in my way I'm just trying to help change and do things I can do just to help out," said the Raiders' Terrelle Pryor.
"I feel like everyone can have a meal every night so I feel that we are making a big difference by actually feeding people," said student Salina Landerth of John Muir Middle School.
Because the economy has been slow to recover, there is still a high demand for food.
"Right now we are seeing 20 percent higher call volumes into our holiday food drive help line," Mike Altfest with the Alameda County Community Food Bank. "Our regular emergency food help line is skyrocketing."
Meanwhile, donations are down. The Alameda County Community Food Bank says it has collected close to 135,000 pounds of food; this time last year it had collected 144,000 pounds.
At the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano donations have dropped by 7.5 percent. That represents about 8,700 meals.
The food banks are reaching out to the public for help and advising people to also send money. One food bank in Alameda County provides goods to 275 agencies that feed and distribute food to people.
"If people can donate cash that's really the best way to help us," said Suzan Bateson with the Alameda County Community Food Bank. "One dollar provides $5 worth of food. That's a huge leveraging power. It really takes the contributors' money far."