Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hunger In California: Study Shows Nearly Four Million Residents Can't Afford Food

By Joanna Lin

For Larry Sly, executive director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, the good news is that the number of people the food bank serves has leveled off over the past couple of years. The bad news: The food bank still feeds 132,000 people every month.

The food bank today serves 46 percent more people in Contra Costa and Solano counties than it did in 2006, before the recession began. Those in need include people with financial emergencies, others who need sporadic help and still more who come in month after month; many never imagined they'd someday stand in line at a food pantry, Sly said.

"The recession I know is technically over … but we're not seeing it here at all," he said. "We see nothing to indicate that things are getting better for the people we serve."

Nearly 58 percent of low-income residents in Contra Costa County could not afford enough to eat in 2009, according to a recent report by California Food Policy Advocates and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The county's rate of "food insecurity," as it's called, was higher than anywhere else in the state and jumped from 16 percent two years earlier.

The analysis [PDF], based on data from the California Health Interview Survey, found that more than 40 percent of low-income California adults in 2009 – 3.8 million in all – could not afford enough food at least once in the previous year.

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