Palm trees, luxury convertibles and sprawling mansions are some of stereotypes and perceptions about Orange County – thanks in part to television shows and movies perpetuating a certain image. In reality, while this quintessential vision of wealth and prosperity does exist, it is in stark contrast to another side of Orange County, where there is a significant divide between those with means and those with very little.
For the last three decades, the income gap in Orange County has widened significantly, according to an analysis of U.S. census data. The top 90% of wage earners in Orange County earned roughly $203,000 a year in 2004 – 11 times more than the lowest 10% who only earned $18,000 a year.
This income disparity is reflected not just in lifestyle options, but also in the basic quality of life for many families on the lower end of the prosperity spectrum. Access to necessities such as safe housing, quality health care, reliable transportation and healthier food can become a struggle.
The reality is that millions of Americans live in households that are food insecure, which means they don’t have the resources to regularly acquire more nutritious food. Food insecurity and access to healthy food are the top social determinants of health that may contribute to issues like diabetes and obesity. More than 301,000 people in Orange County are at risk of hunger each month – including 1 out of 6 children.
Community food banks help fill this void by collecting donations and nonperishable food items and organizing volunteers to distribute critical food and meals to families in need.
Community partnerships are critical to building healthier communities and helping people live healthier lives. Employees from UnitedHealthcare recently volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank, whose mission is to end hunger in Orange County. In addition to monetary and food donations, donating time to end hunger in your community is also important, as food banks rely on volunteers to sort, package and distribute food. In just one afternoon, UnitedHealthcare volunteers delivered food to 174 families in Stanton – which totals 827 people. The volunteer team also helped load 6,360 pounds of food on the truck, which is roughly equivalent to 5,300 meals that were distributed to needy families across Orange County.
Food banks work with partners in the community, such as UnitedHealthcare, to create innovative, sustainable ways to end hunger in the region. The Second Harvest Food Bank feeds 250,000 men, women and children each month and last year Second Harvest distributed the equivalent of more than 21.6 million meals to the hungry in Orange County.