As you read this, there are thousands of California children who don’t know when they’ll have their next meal. Meanwhile, California grows more food than any other state in the nation — particularly in the Central Valley — and we export more than a quarter of it.
“How do we feed the world, but starve our kids?” This question was posed by Brian King, co-founder and director of the Fresno Street Saints, during the End Child Poverty Bus Tour stop in Fresno this spring. His words have stuck with me ever since.
Brian King speaking in Fresno as part of the End Child Poverty Bus Tour in May. (Photo credit: Fernando Rios)
Brian served on the state task force that created the End Child Poverty Plan with me and other leaders from across California. He and members of the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission joined us on the End Child Poverty Bus Tour, where we traveled from Chula Vista to Sacramento to shed light on California’s child poverty crisis.
During the tour, Brian heard some things that stuck with him, too.
“I met a young 26-year-old lady in San Diego named Monique that has all the DNA that I have from these impoverished neighborhoods. [S]he has a 4-year-old kid that she’s trying to raise on $540 a month. But she’s fighting…and she encouraged me to keep on,” he said.
“Through our travel halfway across this state, I’ve been able to sit… with people on the bus… and just look at the glimmer of hope that we come together to try to end poverty throughout the whole state.”Brian King, Fresno Street Saints, a program of the Fresno EOC
As we collaborate with Brian, Monique, and our partners and families to build a bright future for our children, we’re reminded that conversations about child poverty need to take several fundamental truths into account:
- Poverty is a result of the systems we create. It’s not inevitable.
- Poverty in California is urban, suburban, and rural.
- Families in poverty are working incredibly hard. They’re missing time with their children to work multiple jobs, commuting three to four hours a day to get to affordable child care or jobs in big cities, and navigating extremely complex systems to try to access help.
Families can’t wait another year as we push the crisis of child poverty to the side. Thanks to your voice and the collaboration of partners like Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, that glimmer of hope that Brian talked about is getting brighter: In 2019 alone, $5 billion of the End Child Poverty Plan was approved in the state budget.
But that was just the beginning. As we look to 2020, we’re committed to making sure the entire plan is supported so we can END extreme child poverty for 450,000 California children.
We’re ready. Will you join us?
Jackie Thu-Huong Wong
Vice President of Policy and Advocacy
End Child Poverty CA