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California produces nearly half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, yet 1 in 8 Californians currently struggle with food insecurity. “Food insecurity” is the occasional or constant lack of access to the food one needs for a healthy, active life.

Food insecurity has serious impacts on an individual’s well-being, which may result in poor school attendance and performance, lowered workplace productivity, and physical and mental health problems. Individuals struggling with food insecurity have to make tough decisions that no one should face. No family should have to decide between buying groceries or paying rent, no senior should have to choose between food and medicine, and no parent should have to skip a meal in order for their children to eat.

 

The Need

California Food Insecurity Rate: 12.5%

Californians facing food insecurity: 4.9 million
On average, 1 out of every 8 Californians does not know where their next meal will come from.

Children in California experiencing food insecurity: 1.9 million
With a child food insecurity rate of 20.7%, around one in five children in California may go to bed hungry each night. This places California at the 19th highest child food insecurity rate in the nation.

Children in California experiencing summer hunger:1.7 million
85% of children who benefit from the federally funded free or reduce-price lunches during the school year miss the similar lunch programs available in the summer. Every summer, 17 of 20 low-income students fall into the summer nutrition gap.

Californians in poverty: 7.9 million

California has the nation’s highest rate of poverty at 20.6% according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. Food insecurity often goes hand-in-hand with poverty, but this relationship can vary depending on medical expenses, employment status, and cost of living. 

Unemployment rate in California: 5.4%
Unexpected or extended periods of unemployment can often render a household food insecure. Some areas of California have among the highest rates of unemployment in the country.

Adults in California who are obese: 24.2%
While it may seem counterintuitive, obesity and food insecurity often go hand-in-hand. High prices and limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables can restrict the ability of low-income individuals to make healthy food choices. With limited time, funds, and options, people may turn to inexpensive, unhealthy foods that can lead to obesity and other negative health outcomes.

Californian adults who are prediabetic or undiagnosed: 46%
A third of young adults are prediabetic. Food insecurity is a major risk factor in the onset of diabetes and can also jeopardize an individual’s ability to manage their disease. Access to healthy food has been found to help control the disease and to help individuals adhere to strict medication requirements. Within the state 9%, or 2.5 million, adults are diagnosed diabetic. 

Eligible families currently receiving CalFresh assistance:  66%
CalFresh, formerly known as “food stamps,” helps millions of families afford the food they need each month. As of 2014, California had the 4th lowest rate of participation in the nation, in front of Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming. Of the 66% receiving the benefit, 74% are households with children and 50% are working families.

Lost dollars in federal nutrition benefits: $2.5 billion  
If CalFresh reached 100% of all eligible individuals, California would receive an estimated $2.5 billion in additional federal nutrition benefits each year. These benefits would generate an estimated $4.5 billion in additional economic activity per year for California’s agricultural and retail communities. 

 

Our Response

CAFB food banks working to end hunger in their communities: 41
Our members serve urban, suburban and rural communities throughout California.

Local charities distributing food provided by CAFB members: over 6,000
Our member food banks provide food to feeding programs and food pantries in schools, churches, and community and senior centers, which in turn distribute it directly to families in need.

Pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables distributed through Farm to Family: 164 million
CAFB partners with over 100 California growers and packers to capture tons of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables to distribute to people who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

 

Sources:

"Map the Meal Gap” (Feeding America, 2017)

"Highlights for Findings for Overall and Child Food Insecurity" (Feeding America, 2017)

"School's Out...Who Ate?" (California Food Policy Advocates, 2017)

"Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2015" (US Census Bureau, 2016)

"Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Annual Average: 1990-2016" (State of California Employment Development Department, July 2017)

“The State of Obesity in California” (Trust for America's Health, Center for Disease Control, 2016)

"Prediabetes in California: Nearly Half of California Adults on Path to Diabetes" (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 2016)

"Reaching Those in Need: Estimates of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2014" (United States Department of Agriculture, January 2017)

"State-by-State SNAP" (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 2017)

"Lost Dollars, Empty Plates" (California Food Policy Advocates, 2016)