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Rural Kids’ Food Programs Ramp Up for Summer


Monday, April 11, 2022   

One might think that food insecurity would improve as California recovers from the pandemic - but advocates say hunger remains a significant issue, especially in rural areas.

Nonprofits like Save the Children say they're getting ready for a repeat of last year - in fact, they've served 700,000 meals in California, and 44 million meals nationwide - since the start of the pandemic.

Cloe Chambers, California state director for Save the Children, said many low-income families work in the fields but can't afford to buy produce for their kids.

"We're seeing the same need," said Chambers. "And when we have distribution we're running out of the food boxes. So we're working really hard to get them out to as many families as possible. "

In rural Lake Los Angeles, the group uses a colorful bus to deliver food boxes to families who lack transportation. And they are passing out 40 pound boxes of fruits and vegetables at 27 school sites in Fresno, LA, San Bernardino, and Tulare counties.

Advocates will brainstorm new approaches at the Rural Child Hunger Summit, which will be held virtually on April 27 and 28. People can sign up at

Tamara Sandberg, senior adviser for food security with Save the Children, said across the country, 1 in 8 children experience hunger. But it's much worse in the rural areas the group serves.

"Hunger is putting children's growth, development, and well-being at risk, particularly in rural counties," said Sandberg. "More than one in five rural children are estimated to be experiencing food insecurity, which is higher than pre-pandemic levels."

Statistics show that 90% of the counties with the highest rates of hunger insecurity are rural. In addition, major inequities persist.

Black people living in rural counties were 2.5 times more likely to be at risk of hunger compared to white, non-Hispanic people. And Native Americans living in rural communities experience some of the highest rates of food insecurity of any racial or ethnic group.

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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