Hunger in CA

By the numbers.

Poverty in CA:

  • In 2018, there were 5,160,208 people experiencing poverty in the state of California, or 13.3% of the state’s population.
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure, a more accurate measurement, is 19%.
  • 8.1% of California’s children live in deep poverty, where families are living under 50% of the Federal Poverty Rate.
  • California is ranked 51st in the nation for affordable housing.

CA Food Insecurity:

  • The Food Insecurity rate in California is 11.7%, or 4,574,710 people struggling to maintain a regular source of adequate, nutritious food.
  • As of early 2022, one of every ten adults in California report that they struggle to consistently put enough food on their table.[1] This very high rate of food insecurity exists even with the CalFresh program providing food assistance to between 4-5 million Californians.
  • According to a recent statewide survey, three in four Californians with low or moderate income worried about running out of food in the past year. And three in five actually did run out of food.

SNAP/CalFresh in California:

  • Only 70% of eligible Californians participate in CalFresh:
    • 74% are household with children,
    • 49% are in working families,
    • 9% are in families with elderly or disable members.
  • The CalFresh program kept 806,000 out of poverty, 417,000 of whom were children (2009-2012)
  • Research demonstrates that current CalFresh benefits alone do not provide enough money for families to meet the USDA’s nutrition and dietary guidelines for fruits and vegetables.
  • During the pandemic, most CalFresh households have received a temporary boost in CalFresh benefits through federally-authorized “Emergency Allotments.” When those boosts expire, most households will face a “benefits cliff” as their monthly allotments are drastically reduced. The state must explore every way to cushion the blow to prevent further spikes in hunger and hardship.
  • CalFresh households’ purchasing patterns often don’t reflect the foods they need, want, or find culturally appropriate. Shopping decisions are shaped mostly by high prices and limited access, which restricts their choices.
  • Among Californians with low income, 29 percent report that they can only sometimes find affordable fruits and vegetables in their neighborhood and 3 percent report they never can.
  • More facts and figures about CalFresh.


  • CalWORKs families live at 30% of the Federal Poverty Line.
  • Cuts to the CalWORKs program over the last 2 decades has give 1.1 billion dollars annually for the state budget.

Suplemental Security Income (SSI):

  • In 2018, the maximum SSI/SSP grant is $910.72 per month.
  • Women, disproportionately Asian, Black, and Latina, are the majority of SSI/SSP recipients.
  • The state has saved an estimated $10 billion from the cuts to these recipients since 2009.
  • Starting in the summer of 2019, SSI recipients will be eligible for CalFresh.
  • More information about SSI.