Facts About Food Insecurity 

If you struggle with food insecurity, you are not alone. About four out of ten Californians do not get enough to eat or do not have adequate access to healthy food. There are many causes of food insecurity. The information below will help you learn:

How to know if you are food insecure

If you answer yes to any of these questions*, you may be struggling with food insecurity:

  1. Do you have any concerns about having enough food for the day or week for you or your family?
  2. Did you or members of your family skip a meal due to not having money or support resources?
  3. In the last year, have you had enough food for you or your family?

If you struggle with any type of food insecurity, it is vital to get help by using the resources in this guide.

Types of food insecurity 

Food insecurity can vary from mild to severe. All forms of food insecurity cause problems, from mental and emotional stress to malnutrition. The more severe food insecurity is, the more of a problem it is for a person’s life and health.  

Mild food insecurity; worrying about the ability to obtain food

Moderate food insecurity; compromising quality and variety of food, reducing quantities, skipping meals

Severe food insecurity; experiencing hunger

If you struggle with any level of food insecurity, it is vital to tap local resources for help. If you suffer from severe food insecurity, they can provide food for immediate relief from hunger. If you are affected by mild food insecurity, they can help you before your situation gets worse. 

Risk factors for food insecurity

People sometimes blame themselves for not having enough to eat. Self-blame leads to shame, which can prevent people from seeking help. What many people don't know is that many causes of food insecurity are beyond people’s control. Here are some of the most common factors that put people at higher risk for food insecurity.

How does food insecurity happen?

  • Affordable housing
  • Health problems
  • Social isolation
  • Low wages
  • Medical care costs

Lack of access to healthy foods

  • Live more than half a mile from a supermarket, grocery store or other sources of healthy, affordable food 
  • Only nearby food sources offer less healthy foods (e.g., fast food restaurants, convenience stores)
  • Lack of transportation 

Financial issues

  • Low or no income
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Debt 
  • Single parent

Housing issues

  • Low-quality housing (e.g., overcrowding, lack of basic amenities)
  • Foreclosure  
  • Homeless/unhoused


  • Live alone or socially isolated
  • Difficulty getting to food stores due to physical mobility issues


  • Members of minority groups (such as African Americans, Asians and Latinos) are more likely to suffer from food insecurity 

Immigration status 

  • Difficulty adjusting to culture and not knowing English may limit access to services
  • If undocumented, fear of accessing services