Respect Equality

LGBT people of color more likely to face food insecurity during the pandemic, study shows

Just over 17 percent of LGBT people of color faced food insufficiency between July and October compared to 6 percent of non-LGBT white people, according to a Williams Institute analysis of Census Bureau data.
food insecurity report USDA U.S. department of agriculture 2020 2019 report children minorities black hispanic households billion food stamps SNAP benefit
iStock

Story at a glance

  • LGBT people of color were more than three times as likely to experience food insecurity than non-LGBT white people, according to a new report from the Williams Institute.

  • Inadequate or uncertain access to food was most commonly reported by transgender adults and cisgender bisexual women and men.

  • Findings suggest a need for expanded efforts to enroll LGBT adults in programs like SNAP and make charitable food resources like food banks feel more welcoming.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color were more than three times as likely to experience food insecurity during the pandemic than heterosexual or cisgender white people, new research has found.

According to a report published Thursday by the Williams Institute, an LGBTQ+ public policy think tank at UCLA, just over 17 percent of LGBT people of color faced food insufficiency between July and October, compared to 6 percent of non-LGBT white people. Overall, most adults said their inadequate or uncertain access to food was driven by their inability to afford it.

Food insufficiency was most common among transgender adults and cisgender bisexual women and men, according to the report, which uses data collected by the Census Bureau. About 20 percent of transgender adults said they experienced food insecurity during the pandemic – defined by the Williams Institute as sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the last week – compared to 8 percent of cisgender adults.


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


Generally, people with a high school diploma or less were at greater risk of not having enough to eat compared to those with more education. But nearly twice as many LGBT people with a high school diploma experienced food insecurity compared to non-LGBT individuals with the same level of education, according to the report.

Notably, levels of educational attainment among LGBT adults were found to be slightly higher than those of heterosexual or cisgender adults, but unemployment, poverty and difficulty paying for household expenses like food and rent were more commonly reported by LGBT people.

According to the report, more than 20 percent of LGBT people between July and October were living below the poverty line, and 13 percent reported not having enough to eat.

Results also show that more than a quarter of LGBT adults earning less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level – the amount set by the federal government to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – experienced food insufficiency, and only 37 percent of income-eligible LGBT people were enrolled in SNAP. About 39 percent of income eligible non-LGBT adults were enrolled in the program.

Those findings signal a need to expand efforts to enroll eligible individuals in assistance programs like SNAP, which may include “tailored outreach” to various communities, the study’s authors wrote. Researchers also suggested that an examination of benefit levels is needed to better address low levels of program uptake.

Efforts to make places like food banks, which are often religiously affiliated, feel more welcoming to LGBT people may also be necessary, according to the report, which pointed to qualitative research indicating that many LGBT individuals anticipate rejection or judgement when accessing charitable food resources with a religious affiliation.