MENLO PARK (KCBS) – Silicon Valley, for all its wealth and prestige, has plenty of problems. Traffic and affordable housing are the usual suspects, but there’s a less well known issue not far from the glittering tech campuses.
“We have spotted children in East Palo Alto going through dumpsters,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, and a volunteer for Second Harvest Food Bank.
“I remember the first time I went, we gave out bananas. Eight bananas to a family of four for a month,” Sandberg told KCBS. “And my son was very young at the time, and he said, ‘Wow they could probably eat way more bananas.’ And they certainly could because a family of four can go through eight bananas in a couple of days.”
But food insecurity is hard for many tech workers to wrap their minds around. During our visit to Facebook headquarters, the cafeteria was serving up a smorgasbord of French food, not to mention snack and coffee stations around almost every corner.
KCBS asked PayPal chairman and former eBay CEO John Donahoe if tech workers are aware of the problem. “I think the answer to your question is no. That we need to do a better job raising awareness,” he said.
Donahoe said they are backing a campaign to raise $7 million end local childhood hunger. It means installing more food pantries at schools where students are on the free or reduced lunch, expanding nutrition education for low-income families, and other outreach services.
These tech execs say unlike traffic and housing, local hunger is a problem that can actually be solved.
“We have an incredible local food bank. For 50 cents we can provide a meal that is more than half fruits and vegetables, local produce to a family. It’s just a question of all of us deciding together, to make sure that kids are not going to bed hungry.” Sandberg said.
Donahoe said, “We ask anyone that has the means, has the resources to contribute to this important issue in our community, we ask them to do so.”
For more information about the program, check out the Second Harvest Food Bank website.