Earlier today, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law released a new report, “We’re Still Hungry: Lived Experiences with Food Insecurity and Food Programs Among LGBTQ People.” The report reveals persistent challenges and barriers to accessing the charitable food assistance network for LGBTQ individuals, illuminating the experiences of various demographics in both urban and rural settings.
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger was the motivating force behind this qualitative research about food insecurity among LGBTQ older adults, which is part of the Institute’s larger Pathways to Justice Project about poverty and economic insecurity among LGBTQ people.
Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President & CEO said:
“Today’s report confirms what we have seen and heard in communities across the country: that food insecurity among LGBTQ older adults is prevalent, devastating, and complicated. We know that LGBTQ older adults typically face unique and persistent challenges to accessing services offered through the charitable food network, in addition to mounting barriers to the federal nutrition safety net programs. Today’s report brings to light the real stories of people who all too often lack family support, feel shame in seeking assistance, and fear rejection, judgment, or discrimination by service providers.
“The pain and burden of hunger is exacerbated by insidious, often coded bias against the LGBTQ community, which can mean they are turned away from community resources or assume they will be barred because of the shameful history of homophobia in America. Such assumed barriers are all too present in the access to critical nutrition assistance programs like SNAP. Oftentimes, charitable programs are the gatekeepers to SNAP in their communities, but even direct access to the government for help can be daunting for any senior — and for LGBTQ older adults, the message from the current posture of the federal government is rife with hostility toward them.
“For 35 years, MAZON has been investing in partners around the country who seek to advance policies that end hunger — funding this report and partnering with the Williams Institute was our first foray into research on the topic of hunger among LGBTQ older adults, and it could not be more timely. This is an important moment to acknowledge that no one should be turned away from essential services they need — especially during a pandemic — because of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”