Explore the Issues

About Hunger & Food Insecurity in Santa Barbara County


The uneasy or painful sensation caused by a recurrent or involuntary lack of food.

Food Insecurity

When the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways, is limited and uncertain.

Download the Food Security Challenge Toolkit (PDF)

See our 2014 data infographic

Read our 2010 HungerStudy (PDF)

Feeding America recently issued the 2014 Hunger in America report that details the grim but repressed realities of “food insecurity” at local levels. Santa Barbara ranked 14th worst out of California’s 58 counties in terms of meeting its residents’ daily food needs. In 2013 the Foodbank was 15th.

“The faces of food insecurity and hunger may not stand out from the crowd, but the poverty of working families and the day-to-day trade-offs that the study brought to light are alarming.”

–Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin

Selected Highlights from 2014 Hunger in America Study:

Poverty and Food Insecurity

  • 14% of client households have no income
  • 50% have annual incomes of $1 to $10,000
  • 16% have annual incomes of $10,001 to $20,000.
  • Taking into consideration household size, 75% of client households have incomes that fall at or below the federal poverty level.


  • 21% of households report at least one member with diabetes
  • 49% of households report at least one member with high blood pressure
  • 47% of client households have no members with health insurance of any kind (survey conducted before Affordable Health Care Act passed)
  • 60% of households chose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care at least once in the past 12 months.
Foodbank_Health             Foodbank_Education


  • 65% of all clients
    have attained a high school degree or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or more
  • 25% of all clients have post-high school education (including license or certification, some college, or a four-year degree).

Coping Strategies

  • 70% of households reported that they had to choose between paying for food and utilities in the past 12 months
  • 74% of households chose between paying for food and transportation in the past 12 months
  • 71% of households reported using multiple strategies for getting enough food in the past 12 months, including eating food past its expiration date, growing food in a garden, pawning or selling personal property, and watering down food or drinks.


  • 87% of households reside in non-temporary housing, such as a house or apartment
  • 13% of households reside in temporary housing, such as a shelter or mission, a motel or hotel, or on the street.
  • 52% of households chose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage at least once in the past 12 months.
  • 20% of respondents have experienced a foreclosure or eviction in the past five years.


  • 55% of households have a household member who had worked for pay in the last 12 months
  • In 65% of client households the most-employed person from the past 12 months is currently out of work.

SNAP/Calfresh Access

  • 38% of client households currently receive SNAP benefits.
  • 35% of client households neither currently receive SNAP nor have ever applied for SNAP benefits.

Foodbank’s Guide to Nutrition Programs

Created by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County in collaboration with interns from the University of California Santa Barbara Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department, The Guide to Nutrition Programs is an interactive map, providing a comprehensive listing of hunger-relief and nutrition resources throughout our county.

Santa Barbara County Nutrition & Food Insecurity Profile

Source: California Food Policy Advocates.

CFPA’s County Nutrition & Food Insecurity Profiles provide local data describing the need for nutritious, affordable food and the extent to which the federal nutrition programs can help address that need. The profiles are updated regularly as new data become available.

View the profile (PDF)

Website: http://cfpa.net/food-insecurity-2013

Other Reports & Resources

*Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin was among the 16 community leaders invited to offer critical insights and ideas through key informant-interviews.