National study ranks Fresno top in the nation for 2010 food hardship
Study reveals local food hardship escalated while national rates decreased slightly
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) – an anti-hunger group based in Washington, D.C.
– released its annual food hardship report in March. The report indicated that the nation
experienced an overall slight decrease in food hardship in 2010 (from 18.3 percent to 18.0
percent). However, the report also revealed that the Fresno region experienced a
significant increase in food hardship last year. In fact, FRAC ranked the Fresno region
number one on a list of the 100 metropolitan areas in the nation with the highest food
hardship rates. Food hardship is defined as not having enough money to purchase the food
The study identified an increase in food hardship in the Fresno region, from 24.1 percent
in 2009 to 27.2 percent experiencing food hardship in 2010. This increase represents an
additional 34,100 individuals, that number includes as many as 11,000 children, within
Community Food Bank’s service area now struggling with hunger.
“The report is a confirmation of the challenging circumstances that Community Food Bank has
confronted over the past several years,” said Dayatra Latin, Director of Programs and
Development at Community Food Bank. “While responding to the statewide drought, the
collapse of the housing industry and record unemployment rates, we have increased food
distribution programs from 7.5 million pounds per year in 2008 to 30 million pounds per
year to try to meet the increase in need.”
While the nationwide recession technically ended in mid-2009, our local economy has not
fully felt the effect of this recovery. Many low- to moderate-income households in the
Central Valley are continuing to struggle to acquire basic necessities such as food, and
the lack of money to purchase food continues to be a serious problem for Fresnans, as
illustrated by the report. Further, millions of people have become eligible for SNAP (i.e.,
food stamp) benefits as the result of the recession, but in California, only about 50
percent of people who are eligible for SNAP are actually enrolled in the program. Low
enrollment not only has a negative effect on individual households, but the entire
community as a whole because it limits the flow of funding to a region, having a negative
impact on jobs, tax revenue and other areas.
Community Food Bank continues to address local food hardship problems, distributing food to
more than 160 nonprofit partners throughout the region. The food bank reaches 90,000
individuals weekly and strives to see that not one of its neighbors goes to sleep hungry.