During the past four years an estimated 3.8 million California adults could not afford to put sufficient food on the table. California is one of the states hit hardest by the economic downturn; unemployment rates increased from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 11.3 percent in 2009. Adjusted median household income decreased by nearly 5 percent (2009- 2010) and the poverty rate (2007- 2009) rose faster than the national level. In addition, participation in CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps) increased 6.8 percent from 2011 to 2012, significantly higher than the national increase of 2.9 percent. Add to this rising food costs of 4 percent (in 2011) and the results translate to significant increases in food insecurity, which is defined as not having enough food to ensure a balanced diet. Food insecure households are at greater risk for physical and mental health problems, such as depression, obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Although many of these families receive supplemental food assistance monies, they lack the skills to put their food budgets to maximum use.
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