6 California Organizations Aiding Those In Poverty

California is a large, populous state with complicated problems that don't have a single solution. In order to attack the issues of inequality, hunger, and homelessness, many approaches are needed. These organizations help those in need by providing shelter, food, essential services, case management, and advocacy so they can have a chance to break the cycle of poverty. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Organizations Fighting Poverty in California

Name Headquarters Focus
Berkeley Food and Housing Project Berkeley Operates shelters and meal programs in Contra Costa County and works one-on-one with clients to help them find permanent housing, with particular emphasis on veterans and those suffering from mental illness
St. Anthony Foundation San Francisco Provides meals, clothing, medical care, addiction recovery assistance, winter shelter, & access to technology, and runs voter registration drives & advocacy campaigns
Ritter Center San Rafael Supports clients with essentials like food, laundry, restrooms, P.O. Boxes & voicemail, affordable primary medical care, and personalized case management
Alameda County Community Food Bank Oakland Supplies more than 200 food banks and meal services, targets child hunger through Mobile Food Pantries and the Children's Backpack program, and does outreach to help families enroll in CalFresh
Serving Seniors San Diego Addresses the unique socioeconomic challenges faced by aging citizens through meal delivery, transportation, medical care, classes and workshops at the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center, financial counseling, and transitional housing
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Concord Ensures families in need have access to healthy options through its Community Produce Program that brings fresh dietary staples to local neighborhoods and schools, partners with pantries, soup kitchens, and other agencies to distribute food, and provides free meals to kids 18 and under with the Summer Food Service Program

St. Anthony's Medical Clinic

Hunger and Homelessness in California

Alameda County Community Food Bank's Extensive Partner Network

How Many American Children Live In Poverty?

Percentage of children ages 0–17 by family income relative to the poverty threshold, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

Poverty Level 1980 1990 2000 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015 2016
Below 50% of poverty threshold 6.9% 8.8% 6.7% 9.9% 9.8% 9.7% 9.3% 8.9% 8.2%
50% - 99% of poverty threshold 11.4% 11.8% 9.5% 12.1% 12.0% 12.1% 11.9% 10.8% 9.8%

In Depth

Despite possessing a larger economy than most nations, the state of California is plagued by persistent income inequality, and many of its residents still struggle to meet basic needs. In response to these challenges, numerous non-profit organizations have stepped up to help their neighbors by providing vital services, spreading awareness about the challenges faced by vulnerable populations, and pushing for changes in public policy. In no particular order, here are 6 California-based groups working to alleviate poverty.

Leading off our list at #1 is the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. Founded in 1970 on the belief that everyone should have access to sustenance and a stable home, this CARF-accredited nonprofit operates shelters and meal programs around Contra Costa County and works one-on-one with clients to help them find permanent housing. BFHP provides residence directly to clients with serious mental illnesses that make it difficult for them to live independently, and offers education, advocacy, and rent subsidies to those working to obtain a home of their own.

BFHP seeks to do good where it's most needed, providing specialized services for California's many homeless veterans through the Roads Home program and working to build affordable housing in the Berkeley area. Anyone inspired to support the organization's efforts on behalf of at-risk populations can donate funds or much-needed goods, or sign up for one of the many volunteer opportunities the group offers.

BFHP seeks to do good where it's most needed, providing specialized services for California's many homeless veterans through the Roads Home program and working to build affordable housing in the Berkeley area.

Organization #2 is the St. Anthony Foundation, created in 1950 by the Franciscan monk Fr. Alfred Boedekker to serve San Francisco residents living in poverty. Today the group administers an enormous range of charitable services. Their longest-running program is the St. Anthony's Dining Room, offering free meals twice daily, but the Foundation also provides free clothing, affordable medical care, addiction recovery assistance, and shelter during the coldest months of the year.

In addition to their work serving clients directly, St. Anthony's fights for systemic change to alleviate the underlying causes of poverty. They conduct voter registration, organize campaigns to petition legislators, and offer education in social justice and effective advocacy. Through its Social Work Center, the organization also helps clients navigate their existing options for assistance. Those wishing to support the Foundation's efforts can volunteer, make a charitable gift, or donate virtually anything - from clothing to corporate stock to used vehicles.

#3 on our list is the Ritter Center, a nonprofit serving the economically disadvantaged in California's Marin County. The organization's Health Center offers affordable primary care for vulnerable individuals and helps them develop integrative treatment strategies, while its Housing First initiative assists the chronically homeless in finding permanent residence. Ritter's day service programs provide clients with essential needs like food, laundry, and restrooms, as well as PO Boxes and voicemail.

The organization's Health Center offers affordable primary care for vulnerable individuals and helps them develop integrative treatment strategies, while its Housing First initiative assists the chronically homeless in finding permanent residence.

Committed to a holistic aid approach, Ritter Center employees develop a personalized Case Management plan to address the full range of each client's needs. Through community education efforts, the group also strives to inform the public about the realities of homelessness and promote compassion for marginal populations. If you'd like to assist with the Center's mission, you can make a donation or help out in person with their service programs.

Coming in at #4 is the Alameda County Community Food Bank, established over thirty years ago on the simple principle that everyone has a right to food. The A.C.C.F.B. supplies more than two hundred food banks and meal services, as well as organizing efforts to specifically target child hunger such as their Mobile Food Pantries and Children's Backpack program. The organization also offers families education about nutrition and wellness, and performs informational outreach about the CalFresh food assistance program.

The mission of the A.C.C.F.B. extends beyond providing basic services to include advocacy for public policies aimed at relieving poverty and hunger. The organization supports these outreach efforts by conducting research, often in partnership with other nonprofits, on the scope of food insecurity in California. Individuals and institutions can contribute to the fight for food access by donating directly, sponsoring events or programs, volunteering in a variety of roles, or joining the group's efforts to push for change.

Individuals and institutions can contribute to the fight for food access by donating directly, sponsoring events or programs, volunteering in a variety of roles, or joining the group's efforts to push for change.

Next up at #5 is Serving Seniors, dedicated to addressing the unique socioeconomic challenges faced by the aging. This GuideStar-rated and BBB-accredited nonprofit serves elders free meals, both in sociable dining hall settings and delivered to the homes of less mobile clients. Their Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center provides crucial medical care and services like financial counseling, advice on benefits and entitlements, and help arranging transportation. Seniors can also keep their minds active with the wide range of classes and workshops the Center offers.

Most of Serving Seniors' programs are available to anyone over sixty, but low-income clients can also qualify for transitional housing while case managers assist them in finding permanent residence. The organization also performs advocacy work in support of policies promoting wellness and financial stability among the elderly. Those looking to help can sponsor a senior's meals through the Full Plate Club, purchase needed items on the Wish List, or make a one-time or recurring donation. Last but not least, volunteers can always donate their time and expertise.

Rounding out our list at #6 is the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, a nonprofit fighting hunger in the San Francisco Bay Area. FBCCS programs provide food to those who need it most, both distributed through partner agencies and delivered directly through initiatives like Farm 2 Kids and the Mobile Food Pharmacy. The organization is passionate about ensuring that families have healthy nutritional options, with efforts like the Community Produce Program bringing fresh dietary staples to local neighborhoods and schools.

FBCCS programs provide food to those who need it most, both distributed through partner agencies and delivered directly through initiatives like Farm 2 Kids and the Mobile Food Pharmacy.

Committed to tackling hunger at every level, the FBCCS works to spread awareness about food insecurity and petition policymakers to take action against poverty. In addition to its own outreach, the group hosts advocacy training through its Speaker Series workshops, helping community members become leaders in the push for reform. The Food Bank encourages anyone to pitch in by contributing money or groceries, or by joining one of their many volunteer teams.