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Report: SF Has High Rate Of 'Food Insecurity' Despite Increased Spending

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- In 2013, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors pledged to end hunger by 2020, but a new report by the San Francisco Department of Public Health this year shows that the issue has only gotten worse, despite an increase in funding.

Gwen Westbrook is part of the staff at Mother Brown's Dining Room in Bayview, where staffers prepare fresh meals every day for hungry San Franciscans.

"We make sure everybody gets fed," Westbrook said,

Westbrook says that it has been tough lately for the clients she serves, so she is not surprised to hear about the new 200-page report from the SFDPH, which declared that more San Franciscans have become at risk of "food insecurity" over the past five years.

The report says that food insecurity happens when "the ability to obtain nutritious food is uncertain or not possible," but Westbrook simply calls it being hungry.

Despite the Bay Area's booming economy and low unemployment rate, the report says food insecurity is still high for a big chunk of San Francisco's population.

According to the report, the people at high risk of food insecurity are families whose income is below twice the poverty level. That's defined as families of at least three who make about $40,000 a year or less. Roughly 226,000 San Francisco residents fit that category.

"Every time I go to the grocery store for myself, I spend $200 a week just on food. Who can do that? Seriously, who can do that? And if you don't have a house, where are you going to cook it at?" Westbrook asked.

The report says people without homes are especially vulnerable to food insecurity, as are families with small children, seniors and pregnant women.

The city has increased spending by $48 million dollars on the food safety net since 2013, but still, it has gotten worse.

Westbrook would like to see more direct donations, but she'd also like to see a system in which money gets distributed to nonprofits further away from downtown. She would like to see some more people get involved to make a difference.

"With the tents, the food, the drug takes a whole village to change the situation we're in now."

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