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L.A. County Tops U.S. Hunger Study

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Los Angeles County leads the nation with 1.7 million people struggling to feed themselves, according to the Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap study. While 50 million people nationwide struggle to put food on the table, L.A. is highest in food insecurity, according to the study, which is based on 2009 statistics collected by government agencies.

The high cost of living in Southern California and high unemployment are among the critical factors, according to L.A. Now:

To qualify for food stamps, for example, households cannot earn more than 130% of the poverty level. That was $28,655 a year for a family of four in 2009, the most recent year for which food insecurity data is available. The maximum threshold for most other nutrition programs is 185% of the poverty level, then $40,793 a year for a family of four.

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank fed more than 1 million people last year, up from 674,000 in 2006, according to the group’s president and chief executive, Michael Flood. Nick Cannon appeared in a new PSA this week to promote Feeding America's Stamp Out Hunger campaign.

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