Los Angeles County has the largest estimated population of food-insecure people in the U. S., according to “Feeding America’s” report released in 2015. “Feeding America” is a non-profit organization maintaining food banks across the U. S. In furtherance of its work, the organization assembles data and produces a “Mind the Meal Gap” report measuring “food insecurity” across every county and congressional district in America. “Food insecurity” is the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s term for “lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.”
The 2015 Mind the Meal Gap report is based on the latest comprehensive data from 2013. According to this report, almost 1.5 million Los Angelinos, including 600,000 children, are food insecure. That is a food insecurity rate of 14.7% overall and 25% of child in Los Angeles County. While it is not the highest percentage (as that honor goes to Holmes County, Mississippi with a 33.4% rate of food insecurity), Los Angeles’ food insecurity rate is higher than the national average and has the largest concentration of food insecure people.
Los Angeles County’s high rates and numbers of food insecurity persist despite the fact that the Los Angeles County Regional Food Bank distributes nearly 47.5 million meals per year.
The ongoing food insecurity problem is attributed to several problems: some people below the poverty line who qualify for government food assistance programs have problems getting to the food; some people above the official poverty line and ineligible for government food assistance are still working poor who cannot afford enough food; children who qualify for meals such as free breakfasts either cannot get to school early enough to have breakfast or are too ashamed to have their classmates know they need food; finally, as a non-profit, Feeding America is forced to constantly seek donations. Donations may be made to the organization here: Feeding America Donation Here
Alarmed that nearly 50% of all students eligible for free breakfast are not eating breakfast, the government and schools are taking steps to ease the problem. The LA School District has brought breakfast into the classroom, allowing children to have breakfast in time and with all their classmates, as well as increasing federal funding by increasing “breakfast numbers.”
Southern California has also piloted a “Market Match” Program that increases Electronic Benefit Transfer and WIC benefits when recipients buy groceries at farmers markets. The program is already deemed so successful that the Agriculture Department is giving a $3.7 million grant for the program. Organizers believe Market Match has multiple benefits: reducing hunger, encouraging healthy eating, enhancing the state’s farm economy and supporting environmentally sustainable agriculture. Information on participating in the Market Match program can be accessed here: http://ecologycenter.org/marketmatch/
DO’S AND DON’TS
DO donate to Feeding America here:
Feeding America Donation Here
DO find your local food bank here: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/
DO obtain information on California’s Market Match program here: http://ecologycenter.org/marketmatch/
DON’T…skip breakfast, kids.
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