The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the layers of inequality worldwide, especially in terms of food security and the ability of families to put food on the table. In the United States, food insecurity levels rose sharply from 11-12% in the previous five years to 38% by March and April 2020. A survey conducted by Pulse last May and early June found that between 6 to 9 million children do not have sufficient food because their families cannot afford it. It also reports that households of color and low-income households are more likely not to have enough food. 

However, Caterina’s Club has been working tirelessly since our inception in 2005 to provide sustainable, healthy food to at-risk youth and their families. We assist children from insecure homes who are at high risk of malnutrition from underprivileged communities by ensuring they have access to warm, nutritional meals nightly.

The costs of hunger and malnutrition for children are high—especially at a young age—jeopardizing their health, development, education, and career potentials. Children of food-insecure households face a higher risk of obesity and more commonly face adversarial behavioral and academic outcomes.  

Due to the significant economic toll caused by the pandemic, many households are forced to make the impossible decision between having to pay bills for necessary costs like rent or healthcare, childcare, or food. Roughly 30 million children count on reduced-cost or free lunches from schools; yet, due to the pandemic, many have not been able to take advantage of these programs. 

In Orange County, around 400,000 residents struggle to have their food needs met on a regular basis, and 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger each month—since the onset of the pandemic, these numbers have only been increasing. Fortunately, with the generous donations from our community and the hard work of Chef Bruno and his team, Caterina’s Club has been able to serve over 25,000 nourishing meals weekly. 

To date, we have served over 6 million meals, more than 2 million since the beginning of the pandemic, at our 104 different locations, a meaningful step in the direction of our goal of putting an end to global hunger. Discover how you can help children facing food insecurity in your community here.

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