Before Coronavirus, 1 in 4 LGBT+ Americans Faced with Hunger

COVID-19 food bank gay

While this article sheds light on incremental food challenges facing LGBT Americans, promoting policy changes and supporting organizations that feed the hungry are tools we can excercise now. Consider donating or supporting organizations like Food Bank NYC , God's Love We Deliver and Project Angel Food.

From More than one in four LGBT+ Americans could not afford to buy enough food to eat during the past year.

Women, people of color, young adults, and those with low incomes have particularly high rates of food insecurity.

That’s according to a new report by the respected Williams Institute.

Moreover, the figures are based on data from before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Since then the number of unemployed people in the US has soared to 33 million or 20.6% – the highest level since 1934.

Bianca DM Wilson, is senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute and the report’s lead author. She said:

‘Before the pandemic, hunger was a persistent problem for one in four LGBT adults. COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn are likely to have a major impact on this population.’

Over 3 million adults face hunger

The study found 27% of LGBT+ Americans experienced food insecurity in the past year. That is an estimated 3,029,000 adults.

Moreover, that’s more than double the 11% of Americans in the general population who face hunger.

Meanwhile, the figures reveal big disparities within the LGBT+ community too.

Women are far more likely to not have enough to eat with 30.7% facing hunger compared to 21.4% of men.

And younger people struggle more than older people. The study found food insecurity in 30.2% of LGBT+ 18 to 34-year-olds. That’s compared to 26.8% in the 35 to 49 age bracket and 20.9% of 50 to 64-year-olds.

However only 12.6% of those over 65 years old face the problem – although that’s still higher than in the general population.

The problem is also far higher in some races and ethnicities in our community:

  • Mixed race: 38%

  • Black: 37%

  • Pacific Islander: 35%

  • Latinx: 32%

  • American Indian: 29%

  • White: 22%

  • Asian or Asian/American: 8%

LGBT+ people need extra help right now

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service administers several programs to help those in need. The biggest of these is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which it targets at those living in poverty.

However, half LGBT+ people eligible for SNAP still experienced food insecurity in the past year.

Meanwhile SNAP does not cover all those living in poverty. More than one third of poor LGBT+ people who aren’t eligible for SNAP faced hunger in the past year.

The Williams Institute says its report shows a national snapshot of LGBT+ people before the COVID-19 pandemic. But it warns the job losses, furloughs, and restricted access to foods in stores during 2020 will have seen the problem get worse.

It therefore calls for policies and services to connect LGBT+ people with benefits and help. It adds ‘those who may have never accessed these services before’ may need particular help ‘navigating the system’.

Finally it says officials should collect figures around sexual orientation and gender identity to better track food insecurity in our community in future.

The current report used data from the 2017 Gallup Daily Tracking survey to examine LGBT+ vulnerabilities

Reported by Tris Reid-Smith for