California produces nearly half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, yet more than 1 in 5 Californians — about 8.8 million — currently struggle with food insecurity. “Food insecurity” is limited or uncertain access to enough food to lead a healthy, active life.
Food insecurity has serious impacts on an individual’s well-being.
Food insecurity can certainly lead to hunger — the uncomfortable feeling someone has when they don’t have enough food. But even without the experience of hunger, food insecurity has been linked with poor school attendance and performance, lowered workplace productivity, and worse 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.
California Food Insecurity Rate: ~23%
Data is from the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, and compiled by Diane Schanzenbach and Nicholas Fleming from the Northwestern Institute for Policy Research.
Californians facing food insecurity: ~8.8 million
On average, more than 1 out of every 5 Californians faces uncertain or inconsistent access to food. And yet, this number doesn’t tell the full story. Because of vast structural inequities, much higher levels of food insecurity are experienced by Black, Latine, and Multiracial Californians, with white Californians experiencing food insecurity at rates lower than the general population. Also, as shown below, across all racial and ethnic groups food insecurity is higher in households with children compared to those without.
Food Insecurity in California Households by Race and Household Type; Summer 2023
California food banks delivered more than 880 million pounds of food in 2022. Learn more about how we’re responding to California’s ongoing hunger crisis by checking out our recently published reports: