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Food Bank Study Reveals Face Of Hunger In San Diego County

Above: The San Diego Food Bank distributed nearly 18 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2011-2012.

A new report sheds light on the 350,000 people in San Diego County who depend on the Food Bank for their meals, and seeks to understand the demographic, economic and social factors driving that need.

A new report sheds light on the 350,000 people in San Diego County who depend on the Food Bank for their meals, and seeks to understand the demographic, economic and social factors driving that need.

San Diego Food Bank

Nearly a quarter of the food bank population has been relying on the food bank for one to three years.

Unemployment is a key force driving San Diego Food Bank demand, according to the study by Fermanian Business & Economic Institute of Point Loma Nazarene University. More than a third of the households receiving food assistance have no wage earners.

Among those with jobs, two-thirds have annual household incomes of less than $17,000.

Nearly a quarter of the food bank population, of which 55 percent are Hispanics and 29 percent are caucasian, has been relying on the food bank for one to three years, according to the study.

"It turns out that the portrait of food bank recipients is a picture that very much looks like you or I," said Lynn Reaser study author and chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Reaser said the face of hunger in San Diego County is working families who can’t make ends meet, seniors who have been laid off, and tens of thousands of children.

"As we’ve looked at the problem, it is a problem not of hunger and food bank assistance, but is a comprehensive problem involving poverty, education, employment, as well as hunger," said Reaser.

Congressman Scott Peters and San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts vowed to help find a comprehensive solution.

"The County has looked at Cal Fresh and food stamps but I believe now with these findings from this report we can do even more," said Roberts. "We’re going to continue to work, we’re looking forward to partnering with the food bank on this initiative."

San Diego Food Bank

Long-term unemployed of San Diego Food Bank recipients.

"Consistently this community has demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively, cooperatively -- governments, businesses, nonprofit entitites -- to provide insights and practical solutions to problems," said Peters, "and we'll do that here again with respect to hunger."

The Food Bank distributed nearly 18 million pounds of food last fiscal year.

The primary data for this study was collected at the Food Bank’s distribution sites during October 2012 and included interviews with more than 550 households receiving food assistance.

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