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What is Food Insecurity?

California produces nearly half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, yet 1 in 5 Californians — that’s about 8 million — 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 decreased physical and mental health. Individuals experiencing 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.

Hunger in California

Tasa de inseguridad alimentaria de California: 20%
Data is from the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, and compiled by Diane Schanzenbach and Natalie Tomeh from the Northwestern Institute for Policy Research.

Californianos que enfrentan inseguridad alimentaria: ~8 million
On average, 1 out of every 5 Californians does not know where their next meal will come from — but this number doesn’t tell the full story. Because of vast structural inequities, much greater levels of hunger are experienced by Black, Latinx, and Multiracial Californians, with white and Asian-identifying Californians experiencing food insecurity at rates lower than the general population. As shown below, Black Californians are more than twice as likely_to experience food insecurity than white Californians.


California food banks delivered more than 1 billion pounds of food in 2020 alone. See how we’re responding to California’s ongoing hunger crisis by checking out our recently published reports:

2021 Impact Report
Everyone to the Table
March 2020-March 2021 Impact Report | Through It Together: Our Pandemic Year
CA Food Banks & the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact, Challenges, & Collective Response
The Impact of COVID-19 on California’s Emergency Food System
Expanding CalFresh to California’s SSI Recipients: Successes & Opportunities
Pandemic-EBT in California: Lessons & Opportunities to End Childhood Hunger
CalFresh Emergency Allotments & Pandemic EBT Are Ending
CalFresh Emergency Allotments & Pandemic EBT Are Ending
CalFresh for College Students: Equitable & Just Access | White Paper March 2022

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