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More than a half-million households in Los Angeles County earning less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level suffer from food insecurity, according to a report released recently by the Department of Public Health.

Food insecurity—which means people face barriers to purchasing nutritional foods at some time during the year—was experienced in 2015 by 29.2 percent of Los Angeles County households with incomes less than 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or 561,000 households, the report found.

‘Access to healthy food is essential for people’s health and well-being. Without that access, we set communities on a trajectory for ill health that is preventable,’’ said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. ‘Low-income communities and communities of color have less access to nutritious and affordable foods and have every right to environments that ensure optimal health.’’

According to the study, Latinos are impacted the most, representing 67.4 percent of those suffering from food insecurity, followed by 14.7 percent of Whites, 10.6 percent of African-Americans, and 6.6 percent of Asians.

To fight the problem, the report recommends a number of actions, including expanding participation in CalFresh, the state’s food stamp program, improving nutrition standards in food pantries and meal programs, and screening at health visits for food insecurity.

The full report can be found at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ha.