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California food banks struggle

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A decrease in federal donations, a recent crop freeze and rising food and transportation costs are combining to hamper food banks’ efforts to help hungry Californians.

Over the past five years, donations from U.S. Department of Agriculture have dropped 40 percent to fewer than 60 million pounds from almost 100 million pounds, says new data from the state’s department of social services.

That drop alone results in almost 31,000 fewer meals for the state’s residents, food banks say.

At the same time, rising food prices mean more hungry families and a greater cash outlay for the food banks trying to help them.

The crop freeze of 2007 further limited food supplies and led to a decline in agriculture-related jobs.

To provide relief, California food banks are recommending the state use the $4.4 million in freeze relief proposed by the governor to counteract the decline in USDA donations.

They also are calling for lawmakers to increase to $250 million from $140 million the USDA food purchases called for in the 2007 Farm Bill.

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