Despite the USA’s growing obesity epidemic and the general surplus of food available to the nation, LA and wider California has 12.5% food insecurity, according to Spotlight on Poverty. That’s nearly 5 million people questioning where the next meal might come from. With so much food available nationally, this begs the question: why is this happening, and what can be done about it?
Unfortunately, the government is falling short on a number of measures. The flipside is that California is helping food poverty through progressive measures and encouraging transformative technology. Together, and in spite of, the current legislative agenda, Californian’s food outlook is getting better.
The current state of play
Food poverty has remained statistically high in LA and is compounded by the difficulty that federal policy can cause further problems. A notable recent example is the federal farm bill, set to slash millions in CalFresh funding, an important scheme that provides 800,000 with food aid, according to the Sacramento Bee. The progressive nature of state authorities and the rise of ethical and P2P lending, catered to Californians who are responsible with money and have the credit score to demonstrate it, means that the gap is being plugged – but it would be easier with federal support, too.
Helping food management through technology…
According to official estimates, there are over 2 million Californians not claiming their food stamps, according to the state Department for Social Services. King amongst the reasons for this is the overbearing bureaucracy, with many of those in need struggling to deal with the red tape required. However, with 224.3m Americans now using smartphones, tech startup Propel has created an anti-poverty app geared towards tackling that specific gripe. The technology creates an easily accessible account that allows vulnerable and overworked citizens to easily access and assess their food aid levels, rather than having to tackle outdated bureaucratic processes.
…and technology dragging it backwards
On the flipside, LA food banks have reported in recent weeks that new technology on shipments, and the related legislation, are ballooning food costs. In a report by trucker publication CDL Life, a food bank coalition have outlined huge costs of up to $1200 per delivery owing to the new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) legislation. An example of technology taking things backwards, this has highlighted how legislation could be worked to favor those struggling with food poverty, as legislators and advocates have called for the ELD rules to be waived in special cases.
Food poverty remains, shamefully, a very modern and pressing concern across LA and the wider state. Whilst technology can give on one hand, it takes on the other. The key to bringing everything together in a cogent system that favors those less fortunate? Structured and sensible legislation.