UNPRECEDENTED NEW STUDY PAINTS A DETAILED PORTRAIT OF FOOD INSECURITY IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Survey finds 1.7 million residents of LA County face food insecurity.

(Los Angeles – March 24, 2011) The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, today released a landmark study, Map the Meal Gap,” providing the first detailed look at the food budget needed by families struggling with hunger here in Los Angeles County each year – an estimated $750 million.

 “While the numbers are staggering, they are not surprising to us,” said Michael Flood, President/CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.  “Over the last two years of this economic recession we’ve seen an enormous increase in demand for food assistance throughout the county.  With food and fuel prices rising and an unemployment rate in the county at nearly 13%, we expect 2011 to be another demanding year. ”   

 The study takes a look at ‘meals’ in a whole new way, using county-level data on food costs from The Nielsen Company to break down the food budget shortfall of our residents into an approximation of the meals missing from the tables of people at risk of hunger in Los Angeles County each year.

Map the Meal Gap provides the following data for Los Angeles County in an interactive map format:

       The percentage of Los Angeles County’s population who is food insecure.

ü          The percentage of the food insecure population who qualify based on income for CalFresh (Foods Stamps) and other federal nutrition programs.

 

ü          The percentage of the food insecure population in Los Angeles County who do NOT qualify for federal nutrition programs and often must rely on charitable food assistance programs and who also need better wages and employment opportunities to help them meet their basic needs.

 

ü          The average price per meal in Los Angeles County based on new research by The Nielsen Company.

According to Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data analyzed as part of “Map the Meal Gap”, people struggling with hunger estimate they would need about $56 more each month on average during the months that they are food insecure to address the shortages in their food budget.  On a county by county level, “Map the Meal Gap” shows that this shortfall represents an estimated $750 million in Los Angeles County on an annual basis.  

“Map the Meal Gap” also provides critical information that has never been previously available -- food insecurity rates for Congressional District. Previously, food insecurity data was only available at the state level in the USDA’s annual report. The study further analyzes each district’s food insecure population to determine their income eligibility for federal nutrition assistance. This data has the potential to redefine the way service providers and policy makers address areas of need.

The findings of “Map the Meal Gap” are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and food price data from The Nielsen Company. The study was supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.

“Map the Meal Gap” was conducted using well-established, transparent methods. Data were analyzed by Feeding America in partnership with Dr. Craig Gundersen, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available on Feeding America's web site at www.feedingamerica.org

Tweet about Map the Meal Gap using #MealGap.

Join the national conversation on hunger and learn more about Feeding America:

http://blog.feedingamerica.org/

 

About Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

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 600 charitable agencies providing service from 1,000 agency sites, the Food Bank supplies enough food for 900,000 meals each week throughout Los Angeles County. The Food Bank is a partner with Feeding America. For more information, visit http://www.lafoodbank.org.

About Feeding America

Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to 37 million Americans each year, including nearly 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit http://www.feedingamerica.org. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow our news on Twitter at twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.

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 For further information or to arrange interviews, contact: Marjorie Crowley
(323) 234-3030 x 174