Oakland Study Finds 30% of City Residents Go Hungry

Associated Press

A city study has concluded that 30% of Oakland residents suffer from the “chronic reality” of hunger and 20% have incomes “insufficient to maintain a minimum standard of living.”

“Families run out of food stamps, the frail elderly cannot get to a store or meal site, or individuals simply do not have the money to buy groceries. For these Oakland residents, hunger is only one of the many consequences of poverty,” said the report by the city’s Community Development Department.

Half of those at risk of hunger are senior citizens and children. Many of the children live with single parents, Michael Bridges of the Community Development Department said Thursday.

“I knew we had a lot of needy people, but I was really aghast in terms of the numbers,” Mayor Lionel Wilson said. A task force has been set up to look into the problem and to help “eliminate hunger in Oakland,” he said.


The federal government defines poverty based on the ability to buy food for an adequate diet. Of Oakland’s 340,000 residents, 61,609 live below the federal poverty level with annual incomes of $10,990 or less for a family of four, according to 1980 census figures. Another 39,036 live near poverty with average incomes of $16,485 for a family of four.

Sixty-four percent of the city’s poor families are headed by single women, the study found.

It warned that the problem would be much worse if more recent census figures were available and refugees, transients and the homeless were counted.