Darren Hoffman, 323/234-3030 x134



Nearly One Million Los Angeles County Residents Received Food Assistance from Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens and Shelters during 2009

 LOS ANGELES, CA February 2, 2010 - A new study published by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank today reports that a record 983,400 Los Angeles County residents received food assistance from food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters served by the Food Bank in 2009. This total represents nearly 1 in 10 residents of Los Angeles County. Children comprise 40 percent of people receiving food assistance and seniors comprise 5 percent as an estimated 393,000 kids and 49,000 seniors benefited from food distributed by the Food Bank over the course of the year.

The Food Bank’s study "Hunger In Los Angeles County 2010" was released today in conjunction with survey results collected by food banks throughout the U.S. and compiled at the national level by Feeding America. The national and local results provide the most comprehensive snapshot of the charitable food assistance network to date.

Comparing the results of this survey to a similar survey conducted four years ago, Food Bank President Michael Flood stated that, “Even though food pantries and other agencies are serving more people than ever. These agencies are also reporting the need for more food and other resources to meet the growing demand due primarily to the high unemployment rate.” An estimated 584,300 residents of Los Angeles County are unemployed, and the current 12 percent unemployment rate has more than doubled since four years ago.

The new study, based on 451 face-to-face interviews with clients at food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, as well as 363 surveys of the volunteers and staff who manage food programs, shows that in Los Angeles County:

  The total number of people receiving food assistance has increased by 46 percent since 2005 from 674,100 people annually to 983,400 people in 2009.
  The number of children receiving food assistance has more than doubled from 185,000 in 2005 to 393,000 children in 2009.
  Health problems are one indicator of need as 30 percent of households have at least one member in poor health. In addition, 35 percent of adult recipients do not have health insurance.
  While 37 percent of households include at least one employed adult, two-thirds of these adults are working part-time while only one-third of the adults are working full-time.
  For adults currently working or who have worked before, 20 percent have held managerial or professional jobs during their career.
  More than one-quarter of adults (27%) have a college or technical school education although 44% of clients do not have a high school diploma;
  Families and individuals face difficult economic decisions when attempting to meet their basic needs as 48 percent report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities, 46 percent choosing between food and rent, and 42 percent between food and transportation.


To view the full study, Click Here.

"Residents in LA County who are faced with a lack of financial security often find themselves with a lack of food security as well. This means that many turn to less expensive foods such as fast food or pre-packaged foods with low nutritional value. What seems like a food bargain is hardly a bargain over the long haul when it comes to one's health," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and County Health Officer. "Poor nutrition is a leading cause of many of the major killers in our society, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many types of cancer. The LA Regional Food Bank and other local pantries are seeking to address these issues by providing better quality, more nutritious foods that will ease the strains of chronic illness and reduce healthcare costs."

For the agency survey, the median length of operation for the food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters served by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is 15 years, and these agencies rely heavily on volunteers to administer their food programs. In addition to distributing food, many agencies offer other services such as health services, employment training and clothing distribution. More than 49 percent of food pantries report “problems with funding” while 42 percent of food pantries and 30 percent of soup kitchens report “problems with food supplies.”

Client satisfaction is high as 94 percent of recipients said that they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the amount of food that they received from their provider, while 91 percent were satisfied with the variety of the food they received.

“People are probably surprised to hear that nearly one in ten LA County residents now seek charitable food assistance,” stated Food Bank President Michael Flood, “and it is critical that both charitable and government programs continue to receive support in order to help hungry people.” Flood added, “Everyone can do something to fight hunger whether it is volunteering, donating food or funding, advocating for sound public policy or helping in other ways.”

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is a non-profit, charitable organization established in 1973 and is one of the largest food banks in the United States. Through a network of 544 charitable agencies providing service from 902 agency sites, the Food Bank supplies enough food for 750,000 meals each week throughout Los Angeles County. The Food Bank is a partner with Feeding America. For more information, visit

#  #  #



1734 E. 41st Street, Los Angeles, California 90058-1502 * Tel (323) 234-3030

A Member of Feeding America