NEW USDA STATSTICS CONFIRM ESCALATING HUNGER CRISIS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Los Angeles, Nov. 16, 2009 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA) reported today that 12% of residents of California are “food insecure,” meaning that they lack consistent access to adequate amounts of nutritious food. In total, 49 million Americans, including nearly 17 million children, are food insecure. The 2008 report on Household Food Insecurity in the United States paints an alarming picture of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation.
Demand at the food pantries served by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is up approximately 34% percent over this time last year, according to Michael Flood, President/CEO of the Food Bank.
The new data reinforces recent findings from a research study conducted by Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief organization of which the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is a member, reflecting a dramatic increase in requests for emergency food assistance. Conducted in September, the Feeding America study shows uniformly that its network of food banks witnessed an average increased need of nearly 30 percent this year.
“These are alarming numbers. It is tragic that so many people in Los Angeles County don’t have regular access to food,” said Mr. Flood. “It is important to note that the USDA numbers reflect the state of the California in 2008. Since then, the economy has significantly weakened, and there are likely many more people struggling with hunger than this report states.”
“We continue to work on the front lines feeding more than 750,000 people each year, through area food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency feeding centers – more than 540 charitable agencies in total,” said Mr. Flood. “These establishments, many of which are grass root and faith-based centers operated solely by volunteers, serve as an oasis for the many people who seek relief weekly to help feed themselves and their families. Emergency food assistance is a critical link in Los Angeles County’s response chain to help people through times of crisis.”
“National socio-economic indicators, including the escalating unemployment rate and the number of working-poor, lead us to believe that the number of people facing hunger will continue to rise significantly over the coming year,” added Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “Research on previous economic recessions indicates that people who fall into the grips of poverty in a time of recession often times never recover. Many of those people are likely to be in need of our services now or in the future.”
Escarra observes, “Feeding America and its network food banks, including the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, will continue to work closely with our partners at USDA to ensure that the public and charitable sectors are keeping pace – as best we can – with the dramatically increasing needs for food assistance.”