First, the bad news: Back in May, Gallup reported that 15% of U.S. adults did not have enough money to buy food for themselves or their families in the last year. Now, the good news: This is a 5% decrease from the 2013 high of nearly 20% and represents the lowest percentage of Americans struggling to afford food since Gallup started tracking the measure in 2008.
Despite this significant improvement, disparities in food insecurity continue to persist by race and region, and one population often goes unseen in conversations about hunger — the LGBT community.
According to a new Williams Institute report, more than 1 in 4 LGBT adults, or 2.2 million people, struggled to afford food for either themselves or their families in the past year, compared to just 1 in 6 heterosexual adults facing the same situation. LGBT adults are almost two times more likely than non-LGBT adults to participate in SNAP and report not having enough money for food in the last year.
The most vulnerable subgroups affected by this crisis are minorities, women, the unmarried, bisexuals, those without college degrees, people ages 18-39, and those who have children at home.
(Image Source: The New York Times)
In fact, even LGBT organizations were unaware of this hunger crisis. Lorri Jean, the chief executive of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told the New York Times that “our own community is as ignorant of these statistics as the straight world.” And government funders have largely overlooked the LGBT population, operating under the belief that they are already well-off.
Contrary to the stereotype of affluent gays in popular culture, LGBT individuals face enormous economic, legal, and social barriers to accessing necessary resources. Housing and employment discrimination, lack of legal protections, high rates of uninsured, and weak or non-existent family support networks add up to a heavy financial toll.
(Image Source: Talk Poverty)
In light of these circumstances, community organizations and networks play an even more important role in providing access to the resources the LGBT community and their families need to thrive.