S.E. Williams | Executive Editor
Food insecurity is an economic and social indicator of a community’s overall health.
In mid-summer, Riverside County’s SHAPE (Strategic Health Alliance Pursuing Equity) initiative reported at least 10% of area residents were food insecure—a number certain to have increased due to rising unemployment from the continuing spread of COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods or uncertain ability to acquire these foods in socially acceptable ways.
There is little doubt poverty and unemployment are often predictors of food insecurity and data shows one in four Americans worry about having enough money to put food on the table.
Food insecurity is also associated with chronic health problems in adults. These problems include conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, obesity and mental health issues including depression.
Public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impact the health of socially vulnerable communities and, as noted by the University of California Riverside’s School of Public Policy, “The current COVID-19 pandemic has posed increased challenges for vulnerable Californians to access food. Although Californians had food insecurity levels below the national average before the pandemic, many more individuals are experiencing an increase in food insecurity because of COVID-19.”
Responding to the growing need for food among the county’s most vulnerable, Riverside has an online tool that can provide locals with information regarding the closet food pantry, senior meal program and/or school meal sites.
Follow this link to the Riverside County Food Access Sites’ website, input your address and you will be directed to the closest food resource in your local area.