San Diego County is ranked as one of the metro areas with the highest number of children who don’t know where they’ll be getting their next good meal.
In the study dubbed “Map the Meal Gap 2016”, San Diego was ranked seventh in the U.S. when it comes to children facing hunger, even though San Diego is the 17 largest metro areas in the Unites States.
Researchers crunched data provided by the county for the years 2010 to 2014. “In the last five years, we’ve seen the number of adults go down as the economy has improved, but kids have stayed the same, and that’s disturbing,” said the Chief Executive Officer Al Brislain of Feeding America San Diego, whose national organization conducted the study.
The study found 423,130 people, including 151,400 children, in San Diego County experience food insecurity, the study said. The phrase food insecurity reflects a family’s lack of access for a healthy life, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“It’s not that the kids’ bellies are empty, but they’re not getting the right nutrition, and if kids don’t eat right, they don’t learn, they don’t thrive, they don’t grow. Bad things happen that affect us all,” said Brislain.
The study also revealed the average cost of a meal in San Diego is $3.22, higher than the national average of $2.89.
In Imperial Valley, 16.6 percent of the total population and 33 percent of children struggle with hunger.
Thirteen percent of San Diego residents are living with food insecurity in comparison with the state average of 13.9 percent and the national rate of 14.7 percent.
75 million more meals are required to bridge the annual meal gap in San Diego, researchers said.
Organizations like Feeding America San Diego use the study to prepare resources to cover the need.
“It defies words in such a place with so many resources and so much wealth,” said San Diego resident Sarah Moriarty, who reacted to the study. “ It’s astounding really.”