California leads the nation in agricultural production. Yet, for many in the Golden State, just finding a meal for themselves or their family can be a challenge. And as the economy has gone lean, the legions of hungry are growing. According to a UCLA survey, 11 million people in the state, or one out of every four Californians, live in "food insecure" families.
A group of 13 graduate students from the USC Annenberg School for Journalism & Communication has launched a web site that presents an exhaustive investigation into hunger in California. Hunger in the Golden State depicts a sobering reality.
Nearly one of every eight Californians has sought food assistance in the past year. The fraying food safety net has left food banks and social service agencies overwhelmed. The student reporters found hunger throughout the state - even in some of California's most affluent areas.
In addition to their web site, the USC student's reporting will also be featured in The Los Angeles Times and on public radio stations throughout the state. Led by veteran journalists Sandy Tolan and Marcia Parker, the project is also being supported by The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Several of the students working on Hunger in The Golden State are also participating in a collaboration with SoCal Connected, Dream Interrupted. This web-based project looks at the collapse of the California dream, and at ways some innovators are trying to revive it.
We encourage you to visit both these sites, not only for their excellent content, but as examples of the kind of important, high-quality work young journalists are producing in Southern California.