Famine was a reality faced by many of the world's people in pre-modern times. In in the world of wuxia fiction, famine occasionally becomes a plot device...such as in HSDS when Cheung Mo Gei and Yeung But Fui were nearly eaten by members of the Mt. Hua and Hung Dung sects during a famine that had killed off an entire region of people.
Said region was remote from the headquarters of any major wulin sects. I wonder, however, if people who lived near the home bases of major wulin sects such as Shaolin, Mo Dong, Ngor Mei, or Cheun Jen would be less likely to suffer from famine than most other people. Powerful sects have money and influence and thus, might be able to acquire food from other sources.
Also, I wonder if wulin organizations helped out regular people in times of natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods.