Community Responses to Santa Barbara’s Child Hunger Statistics

Last week, the Santa Barbara Independent published an article entitled “Children Go Hungry in Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara County Has the Highest Child Poverty Rate in California”. In it, readers were presented with startling statistics, such as the fact that more than 28,000 children are at risk of not having enough to eat in Santa Barbara County.  

The nonprofit sector, of course, deals with many of the pressing issues the nonprofit sector works with on a daily basis – homelessness and housing, immigration, populations below the poverty line, and more. Below are several of the responses we received from last week’s NPRN newsletter. Feel free to offer your thoughts by way of the comments section or by emailing us at info@nprnsb.org.

Freedom 4 Youth

“Yes, it is [powerful and disturbing], thank you for sharing. This is something we are striving to combat for our at-promise youth coming home from the juvenile system to reduce recidivism and promote stability.”

Bob Ornstein

“The extensive coverage in the Independent brought to light and emphasized one of two two startling and shameful facts about SB that have been publicized in the past week or two.  The obvious questions are why these two situations been been permitted to exist for so long; and do enough people in SB care to work to bring about much needed and long delayed solutions?

1) SB has the highest percentage of malnourished and underfed children in the entire State of CA.  See last week’s Independent article.

2) SB has the very worst—-NONE–permanent supportive residential housing in the all of CA for “justice involved individuals” —the  homeless people who suffer from dual diagnosis issues such as mental illness and substance abuse issues. This population at any given time–and on a constant basis constitutes–50% of the population at the County Jail—who revolve in and out of the County Jail. They are brought to County Jail because of minor infractions–such as carrying an open can of beer or wine, or for public intoxication.  Notwithstanding that the County Jail is not a mental health facility the only reason these people are warehoused jail is because there is no other place to put them. It is universally agreed they do not belong in the criminal justice system, and that the only reason they comprise 50% of the County Jail population is because there is no supportive residential housing for them to be placed in. Why has SB permitted this situation–which serves neither the best interests of the people negatively impacted nor the county’s taxpayers—-to exist for so long?

Local nonprofits are actively involved in dealing with and trying to ameliorate both of these deplorable situations that harm a helpless population in each case–but there is only so much our local nonprofits who generally operate with tight budgets–can  do.

The indisputable fact is that both of these problems are very long standing because our community has never taken a “moon shot” approach to directly address and work to create on ongoing strategic plans to remedy these problems.

SB has the community resources in terms of intelligence,experience, dedicated public employees and members of the nonprofit community who care about  resolving these problems. SO WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?”

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