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Study: More seniors depend on food bank

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SAN DIEGO – Thousands of senior citizens are depending on the San Diego Food Bank in order to eat, a newly released survey reported.

“There are at least 8,500 [elderly residents]” said SDFB spokesman Chris Carter, referring to the number of people depending on the Senior Food Bank program, which has reached full capacity.

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 10.21.59 PMCarter said the number may very well be even higher, “tens of thousands,” taking into account those who get the assistance through family units.

The survey, the first of its kind in San Diego County, was conducted by SDFB and economists at Point Loma Nazarene University also found 66-percent of families visiting food banks are working families, but at an average salary of 22,350 for a family of four, they can’t make the money for both rent and groceries.

Nearly two out of five households have one employed individual, whereas about 30 percent have two or more people in the household working.

“Many people believe most of the people we help are homeless,” said San Diego Food Bank President and CEO James Floros.

The survey also revealed what is the ethnic breakdown of those in need of food assistance: Caucasians account for 29 percent of SDFB recipients; Asians represent 8 percent; African-Americans account for 3 percent; Native Americans represent another 2 percent; and over half, 55 percent of the households receiving assistance are Hispanic.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed would prefer full-time work if they could find it, but they are forced to work one or more part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time employment.

They’re joined by a rising number of people, forced to retire early in San Diego’s job economy.

Other findings include:

• 34 percent of the households have no wage earners.

• While most of elderly people retired by choice, 24 percent have been forced into early retirement and have not found new work.

• 46 percent of households have been receiving help from the SDFB for less than six months.

• 19 percent have been consistently coming to the SDFB for more than three years and 24 percent have relied on the SDFB for one to three years.

The San Diego Food Bank helps a total of 350,000 people every year.