Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 21
HFFI expands the supply of healthy food options in many urban,
suburban, rural, and tribal areas that are classified as food deserts.
Congressional action to increase funding to expand HFFI in
communities with the highest levels of poverty will make it easier
for families to participate in SNAP and increase their ability to use
SNAP benefits on fresh food options to improve nutritional outcomes.
In conjunction with increased federal funding, states should
consider creating statewide HFFIs to provide additional support (as
recommended by several state stakeholders).73 For a more detailed
understanding of HFFI and its role in addressing food deserts and
improving nutrition, see Appendix 12.
• Encourage healthcare providers to ask patients about food
insecurity. Another means of increasing access to healthier food is to
ensure that all people who are food insecure receive the benefits for
which they are eligible. Healthcare providers, including hospital staff,
pediatricians, and other doctors, should systemically screen patients
for food insecurity.74 They should use this information to connect
patients with local SNAP offices, or community organizations that
help connect residents with SNAP, to apply for benefits. Healthcare
providers should also use this in their community health needs
assessments. For more on the questions to ask and how to use the
information, see Appendix 22.
• Make FDPIR foods healthier. Currently, FDPIR food options vary by reservation. Some interviewees reported that food
options on certain reservations are fresher (fresh fruits and vegetables and foods not past their expiration date). Other
distribution centers do not have fresh fruits and vegetables, and food options have sometimes expired. The standard should
be that all reservations, regardless of location, receive at least five options for fresh fruits and at least five options for fresh
vegetables. Canned options contribute to diabetes and obesity, which affect Indigenous communities disproportionately. See
Appendix 19 for more on canned foods and the history of obesity among Indigenous communities.
Eliminate practices that exclude or hurt people of color
Not everyone who needs SNAP qualifies. This is because of practices that exclude or hurt some groups of food insecure people.
Those affected are disproportionately people of color and include some of the most financially vulnerable individuals. They include
many prime-aged adults (see glossary) without dependents, who lose SNAP benefits after three months if they are not working or
participating in a qualifying work program. Depending on the state, people who have been
convicted of certain drug felonies are denied benefits, particularly those recently released
“Some of the most
and/or considered out of compliance with their parole or probation conditions.
These groups have high levels of poverty and food insecurity. Between 36 percent and
37 percent of prime-aged adults75 without dependents are estimated to live in poverty,76
individuals do not
and in a study by the National Institutes of Health, 91 percent of people returning
qualify for SNAP or
from incarceration reported being food insecure.77 People in these groups also face
employment barriers. See Appendix 25 for more on the barriers that contribute to food
insecurity for both groups.
Residents of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, all of whom are
U.S. citizens, do not qualify for SNAP. Before 1982, residents of Puerto Rico qualified for SNAP. At this time, the SNAP
participation rate was 60 percent.78 In 1982, SNAP was converted into a separate nutrition assistance program called NAP
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