Challenge: Designing solutions to address Food Insecurity issues - CHHS

Many California families are eating a nutritionally poor diet or going hungry.  According to figures from 2014, there are 5.4 million Californians that are food insecure – meaning they have uncertain access to enough food to eat.  Many of these individuals are children.  For children, not having enough of the right kinds of foods can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity.  How do we connect these families with the rich agricultural bounty of our State?

What is food insecurity?

The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.

·       In 2014, California’s food insecurity rate was 13.9%, with some counties reporting rates at 18%, and Siskiyou county reporting the highest rate of 20%.

·       The food insecurity of California households with children ages 0 to 17 increased from 11.7 percent in 2000-2002 to 15.6 percent in 2010-2012. (California Department of Public Health: Portrait of Promise)

·       Combined 5.4 million Californians were reported as food insecure.

One of the Let’s Get Healthy California indicators that relates to Food Security is access to fruits and vegetables.  Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, providing macro and micronutrients, fiber, and other natural substances that a body needs to stay healthy. 

Over one-third of adults in California reported that they seldom, never, or only sometimes could find a variety of good quality, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables that they want in their neighborhood. Significant differences in access to healthy foods were also found when examined by race/ethnicity, education, and geography.

This is magnified for low-income families in particular who must often travel miles from their neighborhood to purchase healthy foods at reasonable prices These families often live in neighborhoods referred to as “food swamps,” or areas that have an abundance of cheap, low-nutrient, high-calorie food, but provide limited access to the fresh fruits and vegetables our State supplies in vast quantity to the rest of the nation.


We are calling all data enthusiasts and innovators to help us better tackle food insecurity challenges.

Telling the story using data

There are many different, scattered sources and types of data that are part of a potential picture of food insecurity. How might we bring this data together in a way that becomes actionable to support local communities in targeting interventions and making resources available where they are needed most?

Leverage data and technology to build solutions

How might we harness these data to build solutions that empower communities to access available resources and better tackle food insecurity challenges? 


Open Data Sources

·       CHHS CA state Open Data Portal

o   Food Security on CHHS Open Data

o   (including cost of market basket of nutritious food items, and food affordability)

o   Healthy Community Indicators on CHHS Open Data

o   (including food affordability and access as well as income, education, employment, neighborhood safety data)

·       CalWORKS data on the CHHS Open Data Portal:

o   Monthly counts of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Caseload by recipient and case type

o   Monthly counts and status of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Applications

·       HHS Federal Open Data Portal

·       City of Sacramento Open Data Portal

·       Alameda County Data Sharing Initiative


Let’s Get Healthy California

·       LetsGetHealthy.Ca.Gov

o   Indicator Data: Access to Fruits and Vegetables  

o   Innovations and Interventions on LGHC addressing food access 

Other State or Federal Data and Information Sources

·       Healthy Community Indicators Project

·       (Background on Healthy Communities Framework, data resources and users toolkit) 

·       Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- Education (SNAP-Ed) County Profiles:

o   (Demographic, Obesity Prevalence, Physical Activity and Nutrition, and Environmental indicators)

·       CDSS, CalFresh Data Dashboards

·       CDPH Women Infant and Children Eligibility Program Reach

·       California Department of Social Services: CalFresh and CalWORKS

·     California Department of Education: Food Programs

·       CA Department of Food and Ag : Improving Food Access in California – Report to Legislature

·       County Nutrition & Food Insecurity Profiles - California Health Interview Survey

o   (More data at AskCHIS or AskCHIS Neighborhood Edition)

·       California Food Banks – Data Resources

·       Food Pantries in CA  

·       Mobile Food Bank Programs

·       Feeding America - Food Insecurity: Data by County Per State

·       Food deserts

·       Farmers Market Locations

·       CA Community gardens

·       USDA Economic Research Service - Food and Nutrition Assistance

·       APHSA 

·       California Association of Food Banks

·       California Food Policy Advocates - County Profiles

·       California Poverty Measure

·       Food Research and Action Center

·       San Francisco Marin Food Bank - CalFresh Data Tools


How to get in touch with CHHS:


If you have an idea, insight or you’ve developed a concept solution to address this challenge --- we want to know!


Contact us at; or tag us @CHHSAgency and @CAGetsHealthy

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