Modesto Community Food Inequality and Insecurities

Modesto Community Food Inequality and Insecurities


Large quantities of people facing low income and homelessness in the area struggle with food insecurities. These demographics of people affected have an unequal opportunity to purchase nutritional food. There is also usually not a large variety of foods for people with food allergies and limitations, so many often go without, even when food programs are available. Food pantries do pop up within the community, but often not enough to sustain a person for an entire week, and many food programs lack advertising, so they do not always reach people who need it.

Team Information
The Stand
Health & Well-Being

About the Problem

Problem Category

Health & Well-Being

Problem Context


How did you identify this problem?

Many people in our group alone were in need of food services but found large gaps in availability. Many of us were completely unaware these services were offered, despite being in need of them. Others still in our group who need these services knew about the various food programs offered at school, but could not utilize them due to dietary restrictions and nutritional concerns, commenting that fast food is often what is offered in food programs. No one knew or could name any food programs outside of school. We concluded that if students who have resources offered to them at school and are still having food insecurities, then those who are not students and have no access to the few food programs available to us, then there must be a great need in the community with it as well.

Problem Details

Who are those affected by this problem?

People and families with low income, students, and those facing homelessness. Then numbers affected grew exponentially during the pandemic. According to California Community Colleges' 2020 Covid-19impact survey, in which 49,463 students were surveyed, 40% of students faced food insecurities, (18% were facing homelessness altogether). The 2020 Stanislaus County Homeless Point-in-Time Count states that Modesto has a homeless population of 1,592, the highest homeless population in Stanislaus County with, (80% experiencing homelessness for the first time that year), 51% receiving food stamps or EBT, with the largest demographic being single household individuals, veterans, and unaccompanied youth.

How often does this problem occur?

The problem of food insecurity is ongoing. In summer especially when there are no school programs to help fill this need.

How long has the problem been going on?

There have always been hungry people who need the help of their community during hard times.

Is the problem disrupting the community? How?

It is affecting the community. So many people are worried about where their next meal will be coming from. Prices have gone up on everything, and the amount of people who need food services has increased. The fact that SanJoaqiun Valley is considered to be the breadbasket of the world and still people are going hungry shows how food insecurity s affecting the community.

Is the issue perceived as a problem by the community at large?

Many people in the community are facing this problem, especially with the increase of people facing homelessness in the community.

Is the problem limited to certain geographic areas?

There are certain zip codes that are more impacted, however, it is a widespread problem that has affected many communities and individuals.

Who are the Stakeholders, those wanting this problem to be fixed?

The people who are affected want a solution to this problem. Neighbors within the community who see members of their neighborhood struggling. Schools and churches are the most common organizations to have programs for insecurity.

Addressing the Problem

Are you aware of any solutions, approaches, or efforts to tackle this problem?

According to the 2020 Stanislaus County Homeless Point-In-Time count, Modesto Jr College (East) is within a 2-mile radius of the most heavily affected zip code in Modesto. Having the campus host a weekly farmers market, where locally grown produce and nutritional food may be purchased with food stamps (EBT) would be an active solution to help combat food insecurities within the community.

What are the obstacles you are aware of to address the problem?

In order to start a farmers market on school property, we would have to organize with the Modesto Certified Famers Market, so the proper permits could be obtained for the number of tents and vendors the space could accommodate. Scheduling would have to be determined with both the Farmers Market as well as MJC, and marketing and advertising would be needed.

What are the success criteria that could be defined to address this problem?

As the threat of Covid-19 decreases, more planning can address successful criteria in solving the problem of food availability. Some criteria can be providing trained professionals to support students and refer them to access food programs. Also, identify and institute creative campaigns of campus awareness of the food access issue.