Will Tax Reform affect our ability to accommodate longer lines?

The holidays are a busy time for us. Demand spikes and we need all the help we can get to support families like Zoey Jane’s, who started sixth grade this fall.

Zoey Jane’s story is common in Alameda County: “We have to rent a room because the cost of living here is so high. That’s all we can afford,” her mom Shannon told us. Like so many of the 1 in 5 county residents experiencing hunger, Shannon and Zoey Jane are simply stricken by how expensive it is to live here.

Whether it’s extreme housing, the cost of food (a meal here costs 25 percent more than the national average), or a multitude of other challenges, things are unquestionably tough. Unfortunately, they’re only getting tougher – and not just for those we serve.

Tax-Reform and Shortfalls

This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Food Banks like ours depend on the generosity of the holiday season (and lead up to the New Year’s tax deadline) to sustain our operations. In fact, more than half our annual fundraising comes in between now and the end of the year.

We’re concerned this year.

We knew at the time it passed that Congress’s Tax Reform bill would pose a threat to non-profit organizations like ours by eliminating tax incentives for many donors. That threat is real now. According to the California Association of Nonprofits, giving in 2018 dropped 3.4 percent (compared to economic growth of 2.7 percent). The number of people donating to nonprofits dipped even more – by 6 percent. It’s likely, as CalNonprofits notes, that the new tax law drove many of these changes.

Fortunately, we were spared in 2018 – albeit barely. As late as mid-December 2018, we were falling short of our fundraising goals. We worked hard, and our community stepped up to help. Still, it wasn’t until mid-January that we could breathe a (momentary) sigh of relief.

With the holidays coming around and last year’s experience still fresh on our minds, we aren’t leaving anything to chance. Will you step in again?

Help us get to 14.8 Million Meals

We need to raise $6.2 million this holiday season to meet our goals. To put that in perspective, that will help provide 14.8 million meals to our community.

But our work is about much more than providing meals. Reaching our fundraising goals last year meant we could react in real time to the government shutdown and keep critical government employees – like TSA workers and the Coast Guard – nourished while they worked without pay. It helped us wrap up our Diabetes Prevention Program study and keep community members healthy. It allowed us to examine our CalFresh outreach efforts to reach thousands of newly-eligible seniors and people with disabilities so they could afford to have food on the table. It gave us the resources to protect and fight for policies that keep our neighbors out of poverty.

We’re doing great work thanks to your support. But, it also takes a lot of work to keep up. As the cost of living threatens to drive more people deeper into food insecurity, we need to do more. As the government continues its attacks on CalFresh (SNAP, or “food stamps”), we’re bracing for longer lines. As we develop more groundbreaking programs to reach more people, and further improve the lives of the people we serve, we need the flexibility to innovate and adapt to serve them, too.

This is Where You Come In

Tax incentives are one reason we’re fortunate to benefit from community support. But we know it’s not the most important. If we can end hunger anywhere, it’s Alameda County – because our community is passionate about our work and our mission. You are an extraordinarily compassionate supporter and our staff, our partners, and those we serve see firsthand the impact you make on our community every day.

We will need your support more than ever this holiday as we fight to ensure our friends, coworkers, family members, and neighbors – like Zoey Jane and Shannon – have access to healthy meals.

Thank you for your commitment and partnership as we continue to pursue a hunger-free Alameda County.