The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a new report that highlights the increase in food insecurity. The report, “Social Determinants of Health: Rising Food Insecurity in Los Angeles County” includes information on the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food for low income populations, trends and demographics in food insecurity, current programs to address the issue, and recommendations to improve food security in LA County.
Between 2002 and 2011, limited access to nutritious and affordable foods in households living below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) increased from 22 percent to 31 percent, according to the LA County Health Survey. It is estimated that 530,000 LA County households (or more than 1.2 million adults) living below 300% FPL reported not being able to afford enough food at some point in the previous year. The problem is most severe among the lowest income households, where 40% of households living below the poverty line experience food insecurity.
“Public Health works with community partners to reduce problems that cause health inequities such as food insecurity, and provide more access to resources that can assist families to live healthier lives,” said Cynthia Harding, MPH, Interim Director of the Department of Public Health. “An inadequate food supply can have many negative effects on physical and mental well-being and can lead to adverse health effects across the entire life span. We encourage those in need to take advantage of the resources available, such as the CalFresh Program, offered through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services.”
The report highlights that many working adults have difficulties in meeting the costs of living in LA County. Nearly half of adults living in food insecure households had some form of employment but were still unable to consistently and reliably afford adequate food. The potential implications of these findings are that those who cannot afford adequate food are at a higher risk for negative health outcomes, including obesity, and are also less able to afford medical care and housing.
To view the full report “Social Determinants of Health: Rising Food Insecurity in Los Angeles County” online, please visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ha/.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.