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Food Bank Demand Soars To Record Levels In LA, OC

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(Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A record surge in demand for food assistance around the Southland is putting a strain on local food banks.

Even with food pantries serving about 330,000 people per month in Los Angeles County — up a whopping 73 percent from 2008 — there are an estimated 1.7 million Los Angeles County residents that are still struggling with hunger.

Officials from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and in Orange County told KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta on Thursday that while food distribution has hit one million meals per week, that number is still falling short.

“The demand for food assistance, given the economy, is likely just going to continue, ” said Michael Flood, president of The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Flood points out that volume is up to nearly 1.25 million pounds of food acquired and distributed each week at Los Angeles County food banks — the equivalent of nearly one million meals per week.

“Most of this food is packaged, refrigerated, frozen,” said Flood. “We’re not a heavy meal-driven agency.”

Orange County is also facing challenges when it comes to meeting the needs of the hungry: Joe Shoening of Second Harvest Food Bank said his facility has seen a 70 percent jump in demand in the last three years.

“Are we meeting the entire demand here in Orange County? We’re not even close to meeting that,” said Shoening.

Both officials project a continued lack of resources over the next six to 12 months, blaming both the economy and political pressures forcing tough decisions at the local, state, and federal levels.

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