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High Unemployment, Less Government Food and Higher Demand Stretch Resources
The high unemployment rate and less food available from the government has challenged the Food Bank and agencies it serves to continue to meet the high demand for assistance, according to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s October 2012 Policy Brief.
“The Food Bank will continue to appeal to public and private sources to increase support,” said Michael Flood, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. “This continues to be a very challenging time. With an estimated 1.7 million Los Angeles County residents struggling to get enough food, public and private support will be critical to meet the demand for the remainder of the year and into 2013.”
Since the Great Recession started in 2008, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and the 640 agencies it serves have collectively been able to increase food volume in an attempt to meet a growing demand. However, as outlined in the Food Bank’s November 2011 Policy Brief, a decrease in food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has resulted in demand outstripping supply. Events of the past nine months have solidified this trend.
“The increase in demand is primarily due to Los Angeles County continuing to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation,” Flood said. “The number of unemployed workers has doubled and many people who do have jobs are working fewer hours. This has placed pressure on household budgets.”
There is a labor force of 4.8 million people in Los Angeles County. In July 2012, 540,800 people were unemployed compared to 263,200 people when the recession began in late 2007.
In the summer of 2011, the number of charitable agencies served by the Food Bank reached a record 640. With food supplies tightening, the Food Bank made the decision for the first time in its history to institute a waiting list for prospective new agencies. Fifteen months later, the waiting list now totals 565 agencies.
The outlook for 2013 is mixed due to a variety of factors – unemployment is expected to slowly decline, during the past few weeks the USDA has announced “bonus” meat purchases which will provide a much-needed source of food items during the next several months and there continues to be a significant opportunity through a state-wide program for the Food Bank to increase fresh produce acquisition. The Food Bank is also working in other areas to provide assistance with a team of seven outreach workers who travel to food pantries to identify and help enroll individuals eligible for CalFresh, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is a non-profit organization established in 1973 and is one of the largest food banks in the United States. Through a network of 640 charitable agencies providing service from more than 1,000 agencies and program sites, the Food Bank distributes 1 million pounds of food each week throughout Los Angeles County and serves one million individuals annually including 400,000 children.
For more information or to get a copy of the Policy Brief visit or website at www.lafoodbank.org.