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Study Shows Many Silicon Valley Families Struggling With Food Bills

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A new study on Bay Area families going hungry ties the rising cost of housing to some residents being unable to cover their grocery bills.

The study by the South Bay's Second Harvest Food Bank indicates housing prices in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have risen so high that more than a quarter of people struggle to pay for food each month.

The Second Harvest Food Bank distributes almost 200,000 pounds of food to hungry people every day. But it's still not enough to close a growing hunger gap in one of the wealthiest communities in the country.

"We found that more than one in four residents of both counties are at risk of hunger," said Leslie Bacho with Second Harvest.

That's nearly 720,000 people living on the fringes of a booming tech economy who often don't know where their next meal is coming from.

That stunning statistic is part of the new study by Second Harvest on the causes of hunger in Silicon Valley.

One of the big reasons was not a surprise.

"You have to pay your rent or you'll get evicted," said Bacho.

Skyrocketing rents and stagnant wages mean many people have fewer dollars to spend on food.

"What we're finding is parents skipping meals or making less healthy choices like having cereal for dinner," explained Bacho.

Over the last decade, the number of people second harvest serves has swelled to 257,000 a 46 percent increase since 2007.

The clientele has also changed. Almost nine out of ten people now needing food assistance have a job.

]"30 percent of the people had seen their rent increase in the past year. 13 percent were facing eviction and 26 percent had lost their jobs," said Bacho.

The information will be used to help Second Harvest serve the public more efficiently and stretch both dollars and food. Because even though donations and volunteer help is strong, it is not keeping up with the surging demand.

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