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Westside Food Bank Warns of 'Hunger Cliff'

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By Jorge Casuso

March 24, 2023 -- With California poised at the edge of a "Hunger Cliff," the Westside Food Bank (WSFB) is bracing for a surge in the need for food starting next week, according to the Santa Monica-based non-profit.

On Sunday, CalFresh -- the State's version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp program -- will end the additional benefits provided since the coronavirus shutdown began three years ago.

Westside Food Bank
Westside Food Bank (Courtesy WSFB)

More than 1.5 million people living in Los Angeles County will lose an average of $82 per month, with families losing up to $200 per month, Food Bank officials said.

“With the loss of these pandemic-era benefits, we are facing a severe escalation in hunger in Westside communities,” Westside Food Bank President and CEO Genevieve Riutort said.

“Access to food is a basic human right, so we hope to get the word out about this critical loss in benefits so that our community can bond together to help our neighbors in need during this difficult time.”

WSFB -- which helps feed more than 112,000 area households -- already has been providing the equivalent of 1.7 million more meals during the pandemic, officials said.

"Losing the CalFresh benefits will create widespread hardship and increased hunger throughout our Los Angeles Westside communities, especially now, with the high cost of groceries, housing, and utilities, plus a teetering economic recovery."

Last last year, the Food Bank reduced egg purchases as the average price of a dozen eggs in the U.S. more than doubled.

In January it began "pivoting to less expensive protein sources, such as beans and canned fish and meats ("Food Bank Faces Egg Shortage," January 9, 2023).

WSFB is the primary bulk wholesale food supplier for more than 60 nonprofit social service and faith-based agencies that operate food assistance programs in eight Westside communities, including Santa Monica.

Some 90 percent of the food is distributed through partner agencies with food pantry programs and through five direct service pop-up pantries, WSFB officials said.

The balance is provided through shelters, transitional housing programs, community kitchens, K-12 and college food distribution programs and veterans’ programs.

"WSFB serves low-income individuals and families with children, seniors, people experiencing homelessness and those who are precariously housed, veterans, and college students who struggle with access to nutritious food," WSFB officials said.

According to a study released by USC Dornsife’s Public Exchange in October, the rates of food insecurity in L.A. spiked after a sharp decline, with nearly a quarter of Los Angeles County households experiencing food insecurity in the 12 months ending July 2022.

Food insecurity is defined as a disruption in regular eating because of limited money or other resources.

To donate to Westside Food Bank visit

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