As pandemic creates more hunger, meat, egg prices spike almost 20% in Silicon Valley

SILICON VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A gap between rich and poor has long existed in Silicon Valley -- The coronavirus pandemic is widening that gap as high unemployment and fast-rising food costs hit families already struggling.

The economy is an important part of Building a Better Bay Area. ABC7 news reporter David Louie looks at the problem and the challenge ahead.

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There already was a gap in income and food needs before the pandemic. A new analysis finds the gap has gotten worse because of COVID-19 and service workers losing their jobs.

"Their unemployment rates are as high as 20 or 30 percent, so we're seeing a disproportionate impact on women, on people of color, on families and definitely those that were already struggling," said economist Rachel Massaro at Joint Venture Silicon Valley's Institute for Regional Studies.

Massaro worked on a research study with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, which supports a network of 300 partners who distribute fresh produce and other food across the region. The volume of calls for food has spiked six-fold during the pandemic as the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs has increased 19 percent.

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"Our costs have literally doubled during this crisis, not just because of food cost, but of course, because we were distributing so much more food," said Second Harvest CEO Leslie Bacho.

The new study indicates 11 percent of Silicon Valley adults and nine percent of children sometimes or often have too little to eat.

Children doing at-home distance learning, in some cases, have lost access to breakfast and lunch programs, shifting the burden on families already dealing with unemployment.

One bright spot is home-delivered meals for seniors. Their need for nutritious food for good health is important due to their vulnerability to COVID-19 and the need to stay at home.

One million meals have been delivered during the pandemic by Meals on Wheels, an increase of 350 percent.

Many other senior service groups are also stepping up. As food insufficiency grows, so does the need for more cash and food donations and volunteers to meet demand.

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