STOCKTON, California — Inflation, jobs and the economy are the top issues for Californians, according to a survey by the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California.
Nowhere is the need for help more illustrated than the long line of cars outside the Stockton Emergency Food Bank. Each morning, for three hours, the long line is repeated.
Luzmila Cobarruvias got a box of groceries filled with produce at the food bank to help her stretch her money.
"Everything is so expensive, you know? Life is expensive," Cobarruvias said.
The mother of two teens is a seasonal worker at a cannery, and like many here in the long line, she struggles to make ends meet.
"It's a lot of help for me. They get fresh food, like vegetables and stuff," Cobarruvias said.
By the numbers, demand at the food bank is extraordinary. Pre-COVID about 400,000 people went through the line each year. Now, it's up to a million, according to the food bank.
"The most important items that we are constantly fighting to get are rice, beans, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese and fresh produce," said Leonard Hansen, CEO of the Stockton Emergency Food Bank.
The survey by the Public Policy Institute of California mirrors the desperation. More than one in three say "rising prices are causing serious financial hardship for their households." The same number say they are "financially worse off today than they were a year ago."
As gas prices continue to hit records, people like Dajohn Ross are simply trying to survive.
"If it's $6.18 for the gas or whatever, it's just bad. That's why I got a little, small commuter car," Ross said as she laughed.
Ross is a work flow coordinator for a local trucking company and says inflation is taking a big toll on her every day life.
"You can't have fun, you can't splurge, you can't do anything. I basically just got struggle food and some popsicles," she added.
To no one's surprise, food prices at home jumped nearly 11% for the year ending in April. It's the largest 12-month gain since November 1980.
The Public Policy Institute of California survey also says about half or more of Californians believe the state is headed in the wrong direction.
The Stockton Emergency Food Bank is always in need of donations. If you would like to help, call 209-464-7369 and ask for Maria.