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Extreme Weather Makes It Harder for Californians to Access Food
Food equity organization reveals findings on barriers to food security in California
LOS ANGELES - February 5, 2024 - Intense rain and wind rushed through California this weekend, concentrating in the Southern California coast. Los Angeles residents were warned of possible life-threatening conditions, such as flash flooding and rough surf. Extreme weather like this storm is becoming an increasingly common barrier to food security in California. Nourish California, a nonprofit that increases equitable access to food through policy change and research, partnered with Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) to conduct focus groups and a statewide survey. Their findings reveal the harmful impact of extreme weather and other barriers on peoples’ ability to access food in California.
Two-thirds of survey respondents experienced extreme weather in the past year. As a result, two in five say extreme weather impacted their ability to get food. Reasons for this ranged from interruptions to their income that made it hard to afford food to a lack of food in stores. The increased cost of food during and after the event was cited as the biggest challenge for 76 percent of respondents. Speaking on this budgeting hardship, a participant in a Filipino/Tagalog language focus group shared, “Before we buy beef, now we buy chicken because it is cheaper and you eat more—now you have a conscious choice of what you buy to prolong to save or to stretch your money for food and aside from that there was also a change—its like you are not as wasteful.”
Even without extreme weather conditions, middle and low-income Californians continue to worry about running out of money to buy food. Fewer than one in five survey respondents are able to “always” get the food they need. But instead of supporting these communities by funding and expanding vital programs like WIC and CalFresh, cuts and inaction to fully fund them persist. “If they take [the WIC fruit and vegetable package] away it will be less produce coming into the house in fruits and vegetables for the children. We would have to spend a lot more than what we were spending before,” said a participant from a Spanish language focus group. Our state and federal leaders must do more to permanently provide support for all Californians to afford enough to eat.
The complete findings from Nourish California and FM3’s research can be found on Nourish California’s website.
Nourish California works to make our state an equitable place for all who call it home. Since 1992, they’ve fought hunger through policy change and research. They work with communities to guarantee that children, older adults, immigrants, and all Californians with low income can access the food they need and want.