From a recent record low, childhood poverty has almost tripled

During a time when America struggles to cool down its economy, childhood poverty is intensifying.

The statistics are staggering. Each day, 11 million children confront this harsh reality.

Lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin once said, "If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger."

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), which distributes food to 400 partner organizations across the county, offering assistance to those in need.

In 2021, thanks to pandemic stimulus initiatives, childhood poverty plummeted to a historic low of 5.2%. However, by 2022, with the conclusion of stimulus programs, particularly the child tax credit, this figure more than doubled to 12.4%. Today, childhood poverty stands at 14%, nearly three times the record low.

"Children actually make up the largest group of people we serve. If fact, if you combine children and seniors. That's about two-thirds of the people our food bank serves," said Michael Altfest of the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

Food banks like the ACCFB have transitioned from providing 30 million meals before the pandemic to 50 million today. Alameda County, with approximately 1.7 million residents, saw an increase from 340,000 people needing the food bank's services before the pandemic to 425,000 after, equating to one in four people in Alameda County experiencing food insecurity.

Reductions in the Cal Fresh food stamp program have further resulted in a loss of another three million meals per month.

The Shiloh Mercy Church Food Pantry represents one of 400 partner organizations in the county that distributes food to families.

"When kids come here, I enjoy mentoring them. I try to motivate them as much as possible, ask them about their grades and things like that. I get a lot of joy out of it also," said food pantry client and volunteer Quincy Nelson.

"So many families are out of work and the kids, how do they learn when they need nutrition to learn and concentrate," questioned Shiloh Pantry client Becky Lopez.

Jason Bautista manages food distribution at Shiloh. He echoed the same sentiments as Lopez.

"I think it's extremely hard because they (children) can't go out and purchase the items themselves. It's kind of what's in the household that they can grab," he said. "I think it's hard on the parents as well because sometimes they have to choose. Do their children eat, or do they have to eat."