A recent study conducted by the Williams School at UCLA School of Law gathered data from four major national surveys and revealed the startling trut about hunger in the LGBTQ community. Some of the noteworthy findings include:
- More than 25% of LGBT adults (about 2.2 million people) did not have enough money for food for themselves or their families, at some point in the last year. This is compared to 17% of non-LGBT adults
- More than 25% LGBT adults aged 18-44 participated in SNAP, compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults in the same age group
- Food insecurity is disproportionately higher for racial and ethnic minorities within the LGBT community, and is also higher for LGBT women in comparison to LGBT men. (42% of African Americans and 33% of Hispanics were food insecure in the past year, in contrast to 28% of straight African Americans and 24% of straight Hispanics. Among LGBT adults, 31% women went food insecure this past year, relative to 22% of men)
According to professionals, LGBT people suffer from more economic hardship for a number of reasons. This population, for instance, is likely to face employment discrimination and higher rates of being uninsured.
Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker, a 53-year old trangender woman, has depended on food pantries for years due to trouble finding employment. She explains, “As soon as they realize you’re trans, you see their face changes; everything stops right there.”
In some cases, the lack of family support and lack of access to financial benefits from marriage has also been a significant economic factor. Since same-sex marriage is now legal, though, this trend is expected to change.
For many, including those actively involved in the anti-hunger movement, this data is shocking. Adam P. Romero, one of the authors of the new study, says: “I’ve had a number of people from different anti-hunger organizations say, ‘Wow, I had no idea that hunger was such an issue in the L.B.G.T. community.’”
A growing collective of anti-hunger organizers are now working to develop strategies that will make their food services more inviting to the LGBT population.
Further actions, such as policy improvements, are another integral step in the fight to end hunger, according to Taylor Brown, one of the authors of this study.
“Policy makers and anti-hunger organizations need to include LGBT people when considering issues of poverty, homelessness, and hunger,” Brown said.
Clearly, this study marks the start of an important conversation in the fight against poverty and hunger.