With California experiencing its driest year ever on record, so far, the state is now in emergency mode, and trying to get out as many relief services as possible to the public as quickly as it can.
Among these services will be food assistance for families that have been directly affected by the drought through unemployment from agriculturally-related jobs; temporary drinking water replacement for economically disadvantaged communities; statewide water conservation measures; new irrigation measured for famers; and water diversion projects for habitat preservation for wildlife.
The California Department of Social Services announced that food banks in 24 drought-affected counties will begin receiving the first in $5.1 million in food assistance, with food hitting the food bank shelves soon this month.
Shipments will be sent to counties where the unemployment rate is higher than the 2013 statewide average and have a higher share of agricultural workers than the rest of the state. These counties will include: Amador, Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Yolo, and Yuba.
Beginning this month, the local food banks in these 24 counties will receive pre-packaged boxes of nutritional, non-perishable food items, providing enough food for a household of four people for about five days. The food items will include canned fruits and vegetables, soup, peanut butter, rice, and beans.
People that receive the food boxes will be asked to provide proof that they live in a household where drought conditions have caused their unemployment or underemployment.
In addition, these food banks are developing local “drought actions plans” for food distributions and collaborating with other local organizations serving impacted families.
Also, families and individuals who are expecting to feel the long-term impacts of the drought will also be able to apply for the CalFresh Program, which is a California program that issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at markets and food stores.