Defining and Mapping Social Vulnerability as a Proxy for

Food Insecurity in Los Angeles County



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About This Report

Food insecurity is a significant public health problem. If left unaddressed, it can lead to long-term negative outcomes for population health. There are gaps in how food insecurity is currently measured and mapped across Los Angeles County, which prior work suggests may lead to undercounting of individuals experiencing or at risk for food insecurity. Using publicly available datasets, this study sought to better understand the scope of food insecurity in LA County with a particular focus on the Westside Food Bank (WSFB) service area, and toward the goal to most effectively target program design and investments. In particular, we wanted to answer three research questions which were developed based on conversations with WSFB:

  1. How can food insecurity be measured and conceptualized more broadly, given that most food insecurity metrics are collected at household level, and typically reported at county- and state-levels?
  2. Who is food insecure in LA County and in WSFB’s service area?
  3. What population needs should be considered in planning food distribution?

Findings from this study will be of interest to WSFB’s leadership and Board of Directors, but may also interest more broadly philanthropists, public and private social service providers, policymakers, and legislators in LA County and California.