Project Bread Weighs in with USDA on Racial Equity in Federal Nutrition Programs

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Project Bread's response to USDA’s request for comment

“Identifying Barriers in USDA Programs and Services; Advancing Racial Justice and Equity and Support for Underserved Communities at USDA”

At Project Bread, we believe that to achieve our mission of connecting people and communities to reliable sources of food while advocating for policies that make food accessible—so no one goes hungry—we must also prioritize racial justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Making food accessible requires equitable solutions that acknowledge and seek to address historic inequities. Therefore, when the United States Department of Agriculture asked for formal comments on “Identifying Barriers in USDA Programs and Services; Advancing Racial Justice and Equity and Support for Underserved Communities at USDA” in August, we shared our perspective on how to ensure the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the child nutrition programs could better serve more people.

mom and daughter shopping for produce in grocery store

Using our experience operating the FoodSource Hotline, statewide SNAP outreach, the Child Nutrition Outreach Program, and our other work improving school meals, we submitted comments on the topics such as:

  • The need for data collection and disaggregation by race, ethnicity, other demographics, and smaller geographies (local or county vs. state and national)
  • The importance of a stronger commitment to growing a diverse and anti-racist workforce at both USDA and its partner organizations
  • The expansion of the eligibility of all programs, particularly to immigrant households
  • The necessities for more multi-lingual awareness campaigns that focus on normalizing assistance programs.

Our recommendations, specifically around SNAP, drew heavily from our recent research: Barriers to SNAP. In the survey conducted with the Boston Office of Food Access and UMASS Boston Center for Survey Research we found misinformation, stigma, uncertainty about policies, and language to be among the most significant reasons food insecure individuals chose not to apply for federal nutrition programs.

Underpinning our specific comments was our strong belief that Project Bread as well as USDA and its partners must work closely with experts of color, partners in our community, and individuals with lived experience in the creation, evaluation, and implementation of policies and programs. To this end, we realize our comments are far from comprehensive and look forward to working with USDA and our state agencies as well as members of the wider community.

Like USDA, Project Bread seeks to continually learn and improve in our pursuit of equitable and just solutions to food insecurity and its root causes.

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