The stark stories of a group of ninth graders like Luis Ruiz and Dianne Reyes at the James A. Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles illustrate an unintended consequence of hunger and food insecurity: poor academic performance.
Record numbers of Californians are seeking food assistance at food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and state and county safety net agencies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that one of every seven American households struggled to put food on the table last year. The rate of such “food insecurity” in California may be even higher – at least 11 million families, or more than one in four, according a landmark survey by UCLA. California food banks doled out more than 300 million pounds to needy families in 2009 – more than 8 pounds for every person in the state.
Hunger in the Golden State is a 20-part, multimedia series examination of hunger and food insecurity in California produced over four months by 13 graduate students at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, in collaboration with California Watch.