A UCLA study published this June found that food security for low-income California adults improved between 2003 and 2005, but those most severely affected have not shared in the improvement.
Food insecurity is the condition of not being able to put adequate food on the table on a consistent basis.
In 2003, just less than 40 percent of low-income adults experienced food insecurity. That number dropped by 10 percent in 2005. The number of adults experiencing very low food security, the disruption of eating patterns and reduced food intake, only fell by one percent over that same time period.
The study defines low income as less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which was $19,806 for a family of four in 2005.
According to the study, approximately 2.5 million California adults experienced food insecurity in the previous year, causing problems such as anxiety and worry at mild levels. Children in food-insecure households do not perform well in school and are absent more often, according to the study.
The study was a cooperative effort by researchers from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Food Policy Advocates.
The authors of the study make three recommendations to state policy makers on how to combat food insecurity in the future.
According to the study, federally-funded programs, such as Food Stamps and child nutrition programs, are underutilized in California due to the application obstacles and ongoing paperwork required in the state.
Another way to combat food insecurity in California, according to the study, is by continuing to raise wages and by maintaining income assistance programs.
Lastly the study advises that state legislators connect health and nutrition policies.
“Access to affordable health care coverage may enable families to direct more of their very limited resources to relieve other household pressures, including adequate food.”