In 2001, about 56,000 adults were estimated to be food insecure in Sacramento County. This number tends to keep rising eventhough several federal food assistance programs are available to the low-income population. The objectives of our study were to describe the population using emergency food assistance programs and to evaluate the federal food programs available to low-income people. Two different methods were used. Personal interviews of key informants in charge of the federal programs were made and a self-administered questionnaire was delivered in emergency food agencies. A total of 338 food aid recipients answered the questionnaire. Among individuals receiving emergency food assistance, 80 % lived below the poverty level and 62 % had a member in their household who experienced hunger in the past year. More than 27 % of the households had an income related to work. Among them 73 % lived below the poverty level and more than 82 % were food insecure. The study showed that eligible residents often did not access federal food programs either because they do not know about them or because there are too many barriers to their utilization such as : the lack of information regarding the programs, the language barrier, especially for immigrants, the difficult access to the program sites and the administrative burden of most programs. People using emergency food programs also declared that food stamps were insufficient to feed the household during a month, which explained why they seek assistance from emergency agencies. In order to decrease the number of people using emergency food programs it is necessary to improve the outreach efforts of the federal food programs towards the low-income community. En 2001, environ 56 000 adultes étaient considérés en situation d’insécurité alimentaire dans le Comté de Sacramento. Malgré les six programmes d’aide alimentaire administrés par le gouvernement américain, le nombre de personnes ayant recours à des structures d’aide alimentaire d’urgence n’a cessé de croître durant les 20 dernières années. Notre étude a pour objectif de connaître les personnes ayant recours à l’aide alimentaire d’urgence et d’évaluer l’utilisation des programmes gouvernementaux au sein du Comté. Pour cela, 338 personnes ont été interrogées dans les structures d’aide alimentaire d’urgence et des entretiens ont été effectués avec les responsables de chaque programme gouvernemental. Notre étude montre que les programmes gouvernementaux sont sousutilisés principalement du fait du manque d’information auprès des personnes éligibles et de barrières telles que la difficulté d’accéder aux centres, les problèmes de langue pour de nombreux immigrés ou des lourdeurs administratives.


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