Donations to food bank drop, need increases

Daily Post Staff Writer

Second Harvest Food Bank, which provides food to the needy in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, has seen a drop in donations, an official with the nonprofit said yesterday (Jan. 1).

Cat Cvengros, Second Harvest’s vice president of development, said yesterday that the drop is troubling since more people are asking for food amidst rising costs of living. The nonprofit says it saw 10,000 more people per month during the third quarter of 2019 than in the same quarter the previous year. In the past few months it has seen 20,000 more people per month than last year.

Cvengros said nonprofits generally raise most of their money for the year during the holiday season, from October to mid-January.

Second Harvest had only raised $11.5 million as of last week. Last year they had raised $880,000 more, or about $12.3 million on the same date.

Tax law change

Cvengros said the decrease in donations might be because of a 2017 federal tax law change that reduced how much people could write-off for charitable deductions.

Under the new law, people automatically get deductions for $24,000 instead of $12,000. This reduces the incentive to make donations for people whose total tax write-offs are less than $24,000.

She said nonprofits were expecting that people would donate less this year because they might not have understood the changes the first year that they were in place.

Second Harvest has had 2,800 fewer individual donors this year than last, according to spokeswoman Diane Hayward.

“People didn’t know how the change would impact taxes until they went through one year,” Cvengros said.

Pamela Wellner of the San Francisco–Marin Food Bank said they have also experienced a drop in donations.

Rent vs. food

Second Harvest was hoping to get more money this year than last because of increasing need as rents increase, said Cvengros.

“In Silicon Valley you can’t make ends meet anymore like you used to,” she said.

She said many people have to choose between rent and buying food for their families. Seniors on fixed incomes also have to worry about paying for medicine, she said.

Second Harvest has three locations, two in San Jose and one in San Carlos. It distributes food throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.