Food Security

Food Insecurity Increases in San Bernardino County

Food insecurity is not having consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It reflects both the quantity and quality of food in a household, as people may decide to go without food or purchase less expensive, and also less healthy, food. Food insecurity can also cause increased stress, requiring families to choose between food and other essentials such as housing, utilities, transportation and medical care. People who are food insecure are disproportionally affected by diet-sensitive chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and according to research, food insecurity is also linked to many adverse effects to overall health. 1 For children, research shows an association between food insecurity and delayed development; risk of chronic illnesses like asthma and anemia; and behavioral problems like hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression. 2 This indicator reports data from the national annual food security survey, including both low food security (reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet) and very low food security (food intake is reduced and normal eating patterns are disrupted because the household lacks money and other resources for food).

Food Security

How is San Bernardino County Doing?


Food insecurity in the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area had been on a downward trend until 2019, when the region experienced a marked increase in the percentage of households experiencing food insecurity. The prevalence of food insecurity dropped from 14.3% in 2015 to 9.9% in 2016 with slight fluctuation through 2018. In 2019, the percentage of households that were food insecure jumped to 13.4%, driven largely by an increase in the percentage of households with low food security, while the percentage of families with very low food security stayed roughly the same.


Percent of Residents Experiencing Low and Very Low Food Security in Riverside-San Bernardino, California, and the United States, 2015-2019


In 2019, the Riverside-San Bernardino metro region had a markedly higher level of food insecurity than the state and nation. This is a notable change from the previous three years when the region had a lower level of food insecurity than the state and nation. Over the past five years, food insecurity has generally been decreasing across the state and nation, and Riverside-San Bernardino’s prevalence of food insecurity had been decreasing relative to the state and nation, until 2019. The metro area saw a significant increase in food insecurity while the state and nation both decreased compared to the previous year.

What is it like in a household with very low food security?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2019 Food Security Survey, households with very low food insecurity reported experiencing the following conditions (national data):

  • 97% reported having worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
  • 96% reported that the food they bought just did not last, and they did not have money to get more.
  • 94% reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
  • 97% reported that an adult had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food; 90% reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months of the year.
  • 69% of respondents reported that they had been hungry but did not eat because they could not afford enough food.
  • 36% reported that an adult did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food; 29% reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months of the year.
1Gregory, C. and Coleman-Jensen, A. (2017). Food Insecurity, Chronic Disease, and Health Among Working-Age Adults. [online] United States Department of Agriculture. Available at: [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019]. 2Cook, J. and Jeng, K. (2009). Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on our Nation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].