Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 13
Trends of Equity in Nutrition Programs
SNAP, WIC, and Child Nutrition programs were selected as focus programs because they serve millions of people in the
United States and have similar scopes and scales of operations. Their approaches to implementing racial equity principles are
not identical, but they share some key features:
“Ending hunger means
ensuring that people
have the income and
assets necessary to
survive, thrive, and
save for the future.
It is essential to end
vulnerability to hunger.”
• Each program has elements of an inclusive eligibility model. Each program
is open to people of any racial or ethnic group. Generally, meeting the income
eligibility criteria is the only requirement. Being inclusive is essential to
• Each program provides targeted support to individuals and families with
the greatest needs. Equity, as explained earlier, means receiving the support
needed to achieve equal outcomes. Providing targeted support is the best way to
produce equal outcomes. SNAP, WIC, and Child Nutrition programs prioritize
support to individuals and families with the lowest incomes and greatest need
for nutritional support.
• Each program seeks to use equity-centered approaches (see glossary) to
make it easier for people to participate. Promoting equity requires an
understanding of the constraints and needs of the community being
served. For example, transportation and time constraints frequently
WHO ARE PEOPLE OF COLOR?
limit individuals’ ability to apply for nutrition programs in person.
They may live in transit deserts, be without affordable, reliable
For the purposes of this report,
transportation, and/or have unpredictable work hours.28 Nutrition
people of color are all people who
programs are beginning to be more flexible about options for
are not white. Although the U.S.
participants to qualify for or renew benefits. In some states, SNAP and
Census problematically categorizes
WIC now allow interviews by phone and/or online applications, thus
some groups of people of color
working to “meet clients where they are.”
as white (for example, Arabs and
non-Black Latino/as), the report
More detailed analysis is included in the individual sections on SNAP, WIC, and
considers these groups to be
Child Nutrition programs.
communities of color.
Reducing the Racial Divides in Nutrition
and Food Security
The similarities in the efforts of nutrition programs to apply an equity
lens also allowed for the development of recommendations that can apply
This report’s concern is communities
of color that consistently have
the highest food insecurity rates:
Indigenous, African American
and Pan African, Latino/a, Native
Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and
specified Southeast Asian ethnicities.
See people of color in the glossary for more.
• Put the needs of communities of color at the center (see glossary).
Focusing on the needs of communities of color, including those related
to historical trauma (see glossary), nutritional deficiencies, resource segregation,29 and others, is a practice too seldom
employed. Doing so will address the needs of people of color rather than leaving them out of the narrative and, as explained
earlier, will benefit other people as well because of the “curb cut effect.”
Transportation is a central need in many communities of color (see glossary) due to housing segregation. Identifying this
need and taking steps to address it using a racial equity approach will not only help people in these communities, but also
other hard-to-reach populations whose lack of transportation options may have other primary causes—for example, people
who live in remote parts of a state.
• Expand inclusivity. Some programs have eligibility restrictions on people or on institutions such as schools and nonprofits.
A few examples of how programs might become more inclusive are given below.
In some states, people who have criminal records are barred from SNAP participation. Individuals returning from
incarceration, also referred to as returning citizens (see glossary), have high levels of food insecurity.30 Excluding them
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