From 2016 to 2021, several studies have revealed studies the unique barriers experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals that lead to increased food insecurity.
The LGBTQ+ community has faced oppression throughout history. They face many barriers and obstacles that suppress their voices and economic opportunities, and cause several other negative impacts. This oppression has a major impact on the community’s food security: throughout the US, LGBTQ+ populations in the US face 12% to 29% food insecurity, compared to 8% to 18% of non-LGBTQ+ individuals. As of May 2022 in Massachusetts, 16.6% of LGBTQ+ households in Massachusetts experienced food insecurity, compared to 15.5% of non-LGBTQ+ households.
As a result of these increased rates of food insecurity, sexual minority adults have higher rates of using emergency food resources. In 2019, pre-pandemic, LGBTQ+ adults received support from charities or other organizations a staggering five times more frequently than non-LGBTQ+ individuals. Not only are sexual minority adults more often in the position to use emergency food resources, but they continue to face oppression and hatred even as they receive assistance. Studies show that LGBTQ+ adults have felt unwelcome at food pantries operated by faith-based organizations due to their sexual and gender identities. Many adults express distress when asked to pray or sit through a church service in order to receive food.
The LGBTQ+ population is not monolithic, and within the community there are even wider disparities in food insecurity and SNAP participation. Since December 2021, nearly half of all Black and Latino/a LGBTQ+ households with kids were facing food insecurity in Massachusetts.
Despite the benefits that SNAP provides to millions of Americans and the fact that LGBTQ+ people make up a large percentage of those involved, there are large barriers to safe and equitable access to this critical resource. Black sexual minority women not receiving SNAP had food insecurity two times higher than white heterosexual women. In households with children, nearly half of all Black and Latino/a LGBTQ+ households with kids faced food insecurity in Massachusetts as of December 2021.
Transgender individuals face other administrative barriers to receiving SNAP and government programs. The 2015 US Transgender Survey revealed that a sizeable group of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals had no identity documents with their preferred correct name and gender. Presenting an identity document that did not match the gender in which they present could result in denial of services, as well as harassment and being attacked.
Our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors face several community-specific obstacles to maintaining their food security. Our FoodSource Hotline serves people of all sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities. Call the Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 to receive assistance with your food needs.