Regardless of income, all Angelenos deserve access to Good Food. Accessible food is not only available but also affordable. Government nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) increase the accessibility of food by expanding the food budgets of low-income children, families and seniors. Public assistance is a critical way to mitigate hunger and food insecurity for low-income families. To make food affordable also means advancing solutions that address the core causes of hunger and food insecurity:poverty. In fact, three out of five families receiving public assistance for food have wage earners in the home. To improve peoples’ ability to afford healthy food, in addition to public assistance, we must look for ways to also improve wages and address high costs of living.
2013 Snapshot Food System Topic Area:
- Food Security
- Healthy Food Retail
The key findings in this section are informed by the Dashboard statistics, case studies and expert commentaries.
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Case Study: Innovative Healthy Food Retail – Coming soon!
Addressing Food Insecurity in Los Angeles: Frank Tamborello, Hunger Action Los Angeles
Fighting the Food Mirage: D’Artagnan Scorza, Social Justice Learning Institute – Coming soon!
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in 2011 over half a million households in Los Angeles County experienced food insecurity, described as “reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet, or disrupted eating patterns and reduced intake of food” (United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service [USDA, ERS], 2015; LADPH, 2015). This represents a 40% increase in food insecurity since 2011, even when adjusted for population growth. Food insecurity can lead to hunger and malnutrition, and has been associated with poorer health outcomes, increased odds of hospitalization especially for children, increased prevalence of chronic diseases, and greater risk of depression and other mental health conditions among adults (Los Angeles Department of Public Health [LADPH], 2015).
Improving food security benefits everyone as increased hospitalizations and rates of chronic disease resulting from food insecurity negatively impact healthcare costs for all. Strategies that reduce the cost barrier to healthy food such as SNAP and WIC have successfully curbed food insecurity rates. Increasing participation in these federally funded programs can better ensure that more residents benefit from local food production and decrease burdens on our healthcare system.
Food insecurity is just one of many symptoms of poverty. Housing insecurity and homelessness, inadequate transportation and education disparities also stem from poverty and are correlated with food insecurity as well. As we seek to make Good Food more affordable in the region, we must consider food insecurity as one component of broader systemic problems rooted in poverty and develop solutions accordingly.