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Meal Gap Study Shows How Hunger Hits San Diego County

Meal Gap Study Shows How Hunger Hits San Diego County


Karen Haren, interim executive director, Feeding America San Diego

Jenny Seneor, director of programs, Feeding America San Diego


A new study shows 14 percent of adults in San Diego County don’t know where their next meal will come from.

The study, Map the Meal Gap 2015 by Feeding America, found 435,560 people in the county experience food insecurity and 22 percent of kids struggle with hunger.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

Karen Haren, interim executive director of Feeding America San Diego, said “food insecurity” better describes those who are hungry but are also uncertain as to where they’ll get their next meal.

“It is meaningful,” Haren told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. “Every time someone is not food secure — that’s meaningful.”

While the county's food insecurity rate is down 1 percent from 2014, advocates say the meal gap remains wide. That, in turn, affects the outcome of production including among kids.

“You think about the impact of hunger on kids — they don’t do well in school, health issues are a lot more common,” Haren said. “It’s just a loss for our community.”

But food insecurity isn’t limited to a certain population. Jenny Seneor, director of programs for Feeding America San Diego, said it’s a complex issue.

“Food insecurity is an issue all across San Diego,” Seneor said. “There’s a lot of different types of people who are food insecure.”

The hunger problem in Imperial Valley County was also highlighted in the study with 17 percent of the 179,091 of people living there reporting food insecurity. More than 35 percent of children in Imperial Valley struggle with hunger, the study said.

California's food insecurity rate is 15 percent, according to Feeding America’s report.

Map the Meal Gap 2015 is an annual study that estimates the rate of food insecurity at the county and congressional district levels across the nation.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Map the Meal

The graphic details the number of people in San Diego County who are food insecure. According to Map the Meal, 435,560 people are food insecure in the region. The average cost of a meal is $3.17.


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