HomeAid Orange County

​250,000 Children Struggle with Food Insecurity

by Margie Wakeham, Families Forward Executive Director

November 22, 2017

Can you imagine not being able to feed your children? Every day families walk through our front door with hungry children, turning to Families Forward as a last resort.

Recently, a single mother of four children came to Families Forward in dire need. Listening to the explanation of our Food Pantry services, the woman’s 5 year old son tugged on the staff member’s sweater and asked if Families Forward would really be able to help them. After easing the boy’s concerns he responded, “I’m a big boy and I understand that sometimes there isn’t going to be dinner, but my little brother (being only 3) doesn’t understand that.”

It’s hard to imagine feeling that way here in the abundance of Orange County, but at the Families Forward Food Pantry alone, we serve more than 8,000 parents and their children with monthly food staples. And there are a multitude of food pantries to serve even more families all across the county. A shocking statistic illustrating this struggle for families is that more than 250,000 children, or nearly 50% of Orange County students, qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

Many of the families who come to us are hardworking and just trying to make ends meet. This is largely due to the high cost of basic living in Orange County, including rent, transportation, and childcare. This challenging ratio of income to living expense leaves many families making difficult decisions between buying food and paying their bills to stay housed or get to work. Providing support to these families prevents homelessness, allowing families to meet their rent obligation without taking food from their children.

There are a couple of interesting facts about food insecurity that you may not realize:

The greatest part about supporting your local food pantry is that it is so easy to do. Every jar of peanut butter and every box of cereal counts. The look on the faces of the young children, when they come to get their full grocery cart from Families Forward, would melt your heart.


Consider hosting a drive to collect protein bars or other small nonperishable food items for HomeAid CareKits.


HomeAid has been ending homelessness with Families Forward since 1988, when Building Industry members came together to renovate an old farmhouse for families and the idea of HomeAid was born. Today, through the development of two homes and several apartment buildings, over 24 beds have been added for homeless families. Families Forward programs are also recipients of the HomeAid Essentials campaign and HomeAid’s Community Outreach activities.