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Hunger in America: California

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When summer arrives many needy children lose access to free lunch programs available during the school year. Donations to food banks also generally go down. Hunger in America is an increasing concern as the summer months approach.

Using Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap and other sources let's look at hunger in different states, starting with California.

The rate of hunger is 16.2 percent in California among the general population. That is over 6 million people who are considered "food insecure." Los Angeles County has 1.6 million hungry citizens, the highest nationally of any county.

Imperial County in southern California has a rate of hunger at 22.7 percent. Yuba County is also at 20 percent.

The rate of child hunger in California goes even higher at 26.3 percent. There are numerous counties with child hunger rates exceeding 20 or even 30 percent. Imperial County, for example, has nearly 40 percent of its children considered "food insecure." Fresno, Merced, and Madera are a few examples of other counties with child hunger at over 30 percent.

According to the Food Research and Action Center there are about 2,500,000 children in California benefiting the free or reduced price school lunch program. However, only about 400,000 children were enrolled in summer feeding according to their latest data. This valuable safety net of school meals does significantly drop off during the summer.

One safety net needy families in California have is the federal food stamp (SNAP) program, which gives them extra purchasing power at grocery stores. However, California is one of the states impacted by SNAP cuts enacted by Congress in this year's Farm Bill. These cuts come following last year's nationwide reductions in SNAP.

California heads into summer with reduced assistance for its citizens in terms of school meals and food stamps. Emergency food banks will be under pressure to make up the difference.

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