Experiences of Food Insecurity Among Californian LGBTQ

Author: The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law
Published: Wednesday 1st July 2020
Summary: New report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law provides analysis of food insecurity experiences among diverse population of low-income LGBTQ people in California.


The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.

An analysis of interviews with 93 low-income LGBTQ people, in Los Angeles County and Kern County, revealed challenges accessing and using services designed to alleviate hunger, such as food banks and food stamps. In addition, findings showed differences in experiences among demographic groups, including older adults and those living in rural areas.

"This study demonstrates that barriers to using food insecurity-related programs encompass a wider range of issues, including having the means to transport the food home, having adequate housing to cook and store the food, and having ways to manage the emotional toll of using the services," said lead study author Bianca D.M. Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. "For LGBTQ people, fear of rejection by charitable food services creates another significant obstacle to accessing services."

Key Findings

"The challenges we saw in charitable food services settings may indicate larger limitations in this response to food insecurity," said study author M.V. Lee Badgett, Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute. "It is possible that the greatest promise for addressing food insecurity among low-income LGBTQ people may be in expanding programs like SNAP, which provide benefits that can be used to purchase food."

This report is part of a larger study called the Pathways to Justice Project, which aims to understand the experiences of LGBTQ adults living in poverty and the community and policy actions needed to improve their lives.


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