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12% of San Diego families at risk for hunger, report says

SAN DIEGO – Nearly an eighth of San Diego’s population is going hungry and nearly half of that group are children, according to a report on hunger.

Feeding America recently released a report "Map the Meal Gap" that studied San Diego and Imperial counties and the cost of food.  Both counties have severe child food insecurity, a term used for people who don't know where their next meal will come from. One in three children in Imperial County and one in five children in San Diego County face hunger.

Overall food insecurity ranges from a low of 12.3 percent of the population in San Diego County up to 14.5 percent in Imperial County. The national average food insecurity rate across all counties is 14 percent.

“It is active military duty families, who are struggling to afford to live in this county. It is veterans, it is seniors,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego, an organization that works with the national consortium of food banks Feeding America.

According to the study, the average cost of a meal in the county is $3.23, higher than the national average of $2.94.

The annual meal gap in San Diego also remains high, with more than 71 million meals required to meet the need and an additional 4.6 million needed in Imperial County.

Juan Brito was at the school food pantry Thursday picking up groceries for his mother. He said both his parents work and it’s still a struggle to feed the family of five.

“It’s pretty hard to get a hold of groceries. A program like this is really helpful for the community around here,” said Brito. “[They have] full time jobs, so they have very little time for the family."

Brito said while having the food pantry helps, he’s worried about future generations.

“We are one of the most expensive cities in America and it’s just going to get worse,” said Brito.