Hunger Facts & Statistics

A food insecure household, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),   experiences periods when the household is uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all its members because they have insufficient money or other resources for food.

U.S. Food Insecurity [1]

  • 48.8 million people lived in food-insecure households in 2010.
  • 11.3 million adults lived in households with very low food security in 2010.
  • 16.2 million children lived in food-insecure households in which children, along with adults, were food insecure in 2010.


U.S. Households with the Highest Rates of Food Insecurity [2]

The prevalence of food insecurity varies considerably among household types. Some groups with rates of food insecurity higher than the national average (14.5%) were:

  • Households with incomes below the Federal poverty line – $22,113 for a family of four in 2010 – (40.2%).
  • Households with children, headed by a single woman (35.1%).
  • Households with children, headed by a single man (25.4%).
  • Overall, households with children had nearly twice the rate of food insecurity (20.2%) as those without children (11.7%). Among households with children, married-couple families had the lowest rate of food insecurity (13.8%).
  • Regionally, the food insecurity rate was higher in the South (16.0%) and West (15.1%) than in the Midwest (13.3%) and Northeast (12.4%).

 

California Food Insecurity

According to data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), more than 3.7 million California adults experienced food insecurity in 2009. The number of those struggling is up from 2.8 million low-income adults in 2007 – a thirty percent increase.[3]

Statewide figures, based on a 2007-2009 average, showed that the prevalence of food insecurity in California was 14.1 percent. Between 2004-2006 (the previous reporting period) and 2007-2009, food insecurity in California increased by 3.2 percentage points. [4]

San Diego County Food Insecurity

San Diego County’s official unemployment rate remains near 10%. [5] The estimated “real” unemployment rate including people working part time who would prefer full-time employment and those who have given up the job search is estimated to be 18%.[6]

Nearly 230,000 school children in San Diego County live in low-income households and receive free or reduced-priced meals at school. [7]

More than 446,000 people live below the poverty level in San Diego County. [8] That equates to a household income of less than $10,890 for an individual and $22,350 for a family of four. These individuals face “food insecurity” which means that little or no food is available at home and they do not always know where they will find their next meal.

CalFresh (Food Stamp) Participation

California ranks next to last among all states for participation in CalFresh (formerly known as Food Stamps). [9] In these times of economic hardship, increasing CalFresh participation is an excellent means of bolstering economic activity while supporting the growing number of Californians in need. The USDA has shown that every dollar in CalFresh benefits generates $1.79 in economic activity. [10] This multiplier effect helps stimulates the economy.

CalFresh provides benefits to supplement household food budgets when individuals or families cannot afford enough to eat. By providing access to a nutritious, affordable diet, CalFresh benefits support productivity, promote health, and help prevent hunger.

The data most recently available from USDA show that 48% of all eligible individuals participated in CalFresh in Calfornia during 2007, and CalFresh utilization increased rapidly over the course of the recession. For example, the number of California households receiving CalFresh benefits increased by 19.5% between fiscal year 2007‐08 and fiscal year 2008‐09. [11]

By June 2010, 3.2 million Californians were participating in CalFresh. This translates to almost $470 million in monthly nutrition assistance benefits for eligible children, adults, and seniors. Households received an average of $325 in monthly CalFresh benefits during the fiscal year 2008‐09. [12]

According to the Food Research Action Center, only 40% of income-eligible household in San Diego County receive CalFresh benefits. [13] To tackle this problem, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors has implemented a modernization program for CalFresh enrolment in San Diego County and has implemented measures to streamline the application process. As a result, from 2006 the number of CalFresh participants has increased from 83,143 to 236,581 – an increase of 185%. [14]

The Food Bank’s CalFresh Outreach Program helps our clients sign up for CalFresh benefits. Since the program’s inception in 2009, the Food Bank has helped enroll over 5,000 households onto the CalFresh Program

Resources

USDA, Household Food Security in the United States in 2010
http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/Err125/

California Food Policy Advocates, CalFresh Increases by County in California from 2006-2011
http://cfpa.net/CalFresh/CFPAPublications/CalFreshIncreasesByCountyFrom2006-2011.pdf

California Food Policy Advocates, Lost Dollars, Empty Plates
http://cfpa.net/CalFresh/CFPAPublications/LDEP-FullReport-2010.pdf

2009 California Health Interview Survey, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
http://www.askchis.com/

Reaching Those in Need: State Food Stamp Participation Rates in 2007, USDA Food and Nutrition Service http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/FILES/Participation/Reaching2007.pdf


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[1] Household Food Security in the United States in 2010, USDA, Sept. 2011

[2] Household Food Security in the United States in 2010, USDA, Sept. 2011

[3] UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 2009 California Health Interview Survey, 2011

[4] USDA, Household Food Security in the United States in 2010, Sept. 2011

[5] State of California Unemployment Development Department

[6] Dr. Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist, Point Loma Nazarene University

[7] California Department of Education

[8] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2010, Compiled by SANDAG, Nov. 2011.

[9] USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Reaching Those in Need: State Food Stamp Participation Rates in 2007, Nov. 2009

[10] USDA Economic Research Service, The Food Assistance National Input‐Output Multiplier (FANIOM) Model and Stimulus Effects of SNAP, Oct. 2010

[11] California Food Policy Advocates, Lost Dollars, Empty Plates, Nov. 2010

[12] California Food Policy Advocates, Lost Dollars, Empty Plates, Nov. 2010

[13] Food Research & Action Center, SNAP Access in Urban America, A City-by-City Snapshot, Jan. 2011

[14] California Food Policy Advocates, CalFresh Increases by County In California from 2006-2011, 2011