Recently released Census Bureau statistics paint a grim picture of poverty. Nationwide the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line has increased from 14.3 to 15.1 percent. Most troubling is that the number of seniors living in poverty has nearly doubled from 9 to over 15 percent. “Hunger and food insecurity is a symptom of poverty,” says Samantha Burrows, Director of Homeless and Family Support Services for Tri-Valley Haven. “We see these same figures playing out at our food pantry as seniors are faced with choosing between food and their medication”.
While as many as 1 in 15 Americans are considered poor and the use of support programs, such as Tri-Valley Haven’s Food Pantry, are becoming more mainstream, vulnerable populations such as the chronically homeless or those with special medical needs continue to be the hardest hit. The idea behind “Paper of Plastic” was to equip Food Pantry staff with the resources necessary to meet the dietary needs of special needs groups without taking up the very limited space at the Pantry itself.
Canned food drives are popular during the holiday season, but the Haven is asking that the community support their efforts to address special needs at the Pantry by donating cash (“paper”) or gift cards (“plastic”)
Last fiscal year, Tri-Valley Haven’s Food Pantry served nearly 7,000 unduplicated individuals, representing over 2,000 households throughout Livermore, Dublin and Pleasanton. Gift cards or checks may be sent to “Paper or Plastic” c/o Tri-Valley Haven PO Box 2190 Livermore CA 94550.
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Now in its fourth decade of service Tri-Valley Haven provides vital shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and homelessness. The Haven also provides comprehensive violence prevention education and counseling.