San Diego Hunger Coalition on Wednesday released a new report that found that more than a quarter of San Diego County residents face nutritional insecurity.
Researchers analyzed data from March of this year on economic conditions to assess the needs of San Diego County residents. The report comes during Hunger Awareness month, which is observed every year in September.
The report found that the hunger relief sector meets about 75% of the need. According to the report, an additional 11.9 million meals per month is needed to ensure everyone has access to enough healthy food.
More than one in four San Diegans are nutrition-insecure, including one in three children and youth, according to the report, which breaks down the data by ZIP codes.
Anahid Brakkek, President and CEO of the San Diego Hunger coalition said the data reinforced “what we already know -- a broken system prevents certain San Diego communities from accessing enough food to thrive.”
“The impact of inflation on hunger relief agencies will soon be compounded by the end of the federal public health emergency, likely in January 2023,'' Brakke said. "Federal pandemic aid in the form of additional CalFresh benefits for each recipient will end 60 days after the public health emergency is lifted. These additional CalFresh monthly benefits comprised 22% of all food assistance provided in March 2022 -- almost twice the amount of food distributed that month by both food banks and their 500+ partners combined,'' she said.
The report found nutrition insecurity remains the highest in communities of color. The most disproportionally impacted communities include Hispanic/Latino and Black communities, with 39% of the total Hispanic/Latino and 37% of the total Black populations experiencing nutrition insecurity.
The findings also show that nutritional security decreased with the COVID 19-pandemic. According to the data, nutrition insecurity has decreased from 2021, changing from a 30% rate of insecurity down to 28%. But the region is still not at 2019's decade-low of 25%.
Inflation has also impacted the hunger relief sector, according to the authors of the report. Food banks, pantries, and other nonprofit organizations that distribute free food are struggling to keep up with the need as their own operational costs increase.
“The numbers in our report may be daunting but we know this is actually a conservative estimate of total need,'' Brakke said.