November 11-18 is Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, a crucial time for us to come together as a community to acknowledge the pressing issues of food insecurity and homelessness and work towards finding sustainable solutions.
According to hhweek.org, 37.2 million Americans live below the poverty level, with 580,000 experiencing homelessness on a typical night and 44 million who are at risk of suffering from hunger. In Colorado, 1 in 3 Coloradans (33%) are struggling with hunger - a historic high for the state. This increases to 2 in 5 (43%) for individuals of color who are struggling to access quality, nutritious foods (Hunger Free Colorado).
In Boulder County specifically, 27,960 people (or 8.5% of the population) were considered food insecure according to a 2021 Feeding America report. Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as “the lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Food insecure individuals are often forced to choose between buying nutritious food and purchasing other basic necessities such as medication, rent, utilities, etc. For more information on food insecurity in Boulder County, check out this great blog post from Boulder Food Rescue.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy released The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2022., which is a measure of “income adequacy that is based on the costs of basic needs for working families: housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, and miscellaneous items, as well as the cost of taxes and the impact of tax credits.”
In Boulder County, an individual would need to earn the following income to be considered “self-sufficient”:
1 Adult: $41,058
1 Adult and 1 preschooler: $80,435
1 Adult, 1 preschooler, and 1 school age: $99,411
At the current Boulder County minimum wage of $13.65, an individual would need to work nearly 60 hours a week to meet the self-sufficiency standard for a single adult without children. With children, reaching that self-sufficiency point is nearly impossible.
Financial insecurity, food insecurity, and homelessness are often intertwined, resulting from a complex web of factors such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, unemployment, mental health issues, and systemic inequalities. Rising living costs and stagnant wages further exacerbate these problems, leaving vulnerable individuals and families at risk.
In 2022, the Colorado State of Homelessness Report 2022 from Colorado Coalition for the Homeless reported that 66% of Colorado’s homeless population was concentrated in the Denver seven-county metro region. Across the state, those experiencing chronic homelessness increased by 130% over the last 10 years. When an individual is experiencing homelessness, it makes it even more difficult to access adequate nutrition due to transportation barriers, lack of access to a place to prepare food, or lack of financial resources.
Amidst these challenges, Coal Creek Meals on Wheels and other community organizations stand as beacons of hope. We believe that no one should have to worry if they will have food on their plates or a roof over their head. For this reason, we are dedicated to addressing food insecurity by providing nutritious meals along with strategic referrals to community organizations to ensure all needs of our community members can be met, leading to a happier and healthier community.
As we observe Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, let's translate awareness into action. You can make a significant impact by donating to organizations like Coal Creek Meals on Wheels. Your contribution can help provide meals to those experiencing food insecurity, ensuring they have access to nutritious food every day.
How You Can Help:
Monetary Donations: Even small donations can make a big difference. Visit our website to give a gift today (all donations made between November 1 and December 31, 2023 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $40,000!).
Volunteer: Offer your time and skills to deliver meals, work in our kitchen, serve in our cafe, and more! Your compassion can make a difference for our neighbors.
Spread the Word: Use your voice on social media platforms, at community events, or local gatherings. Awareness leads to action, and your advocacy can inspire others to join the movement to end hunger and homelessness in our communities!
Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week serves as a reminder that our community's strength lies in its ability to come together and uplift those in need. By supporting organizations like Coal Creek Meals on Wheels and actively engaging in the cause, we can create a brighter, more compassionate future for Boulder County. Together, let's turn awareness into action and work to end hunger homelessness in our community once and for all.
Check out our recommended list for other community organizations who are working to address hunger and homelessness in Boulder County:
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