Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 5
Ending hunger in a lasting, sustainable way requires addressing its root causes (see Appendix 29). While hunger and poverty
rates have declined nationwide, people of color remain at consistently higher risk of hunger and poverty than their white peers.
This is due, in large part, to structural racism. Applying a racial equity lens—a concept and practice that focuses on achieving
equality for people of color—can help the United States reduce the impacts of structural racism (for more on racial equity, see
the Key Terms, the glossary, and the Appendix, Tool 2).
To end hunger and food insecurity in the United States,
the nation must apply a racial equity lens to causes and
RACIAL EQUITY VS. RACIAL EQUALITY
solutions. In this context, achieving racial equity means
that people of color are no longer more likely to be food
The two concepts are different. By practicing
insecure than whites and can reach optimal nutritional
racial equity, racial equality is achieved. In
outcomes. Putting the needs of communities of color at the
other words, providing targeted support
center has the wider effect of lowering barriers for everyone.
based on need, circumstance, and historical
Ultimately, the impact of applying a racial equity lens to
context creates an environment where all
federal nutrition programs is that all participants, regardless
communities can attain equal, and later
of race, are able to improve their nutritional status.2 See
optimal, outcomes regardless of race.
“Understanding the Curb-Cut Effect,” page 12, for more on
For more, see Key Terms and the Glossary.
how this happens.
While there are many factors that contribute to food
security and freedom from hunger, this report focuses on
one—nutrition. Since racial equity has not been consistently and comprehensively applied to the larger ecosystem of hunger
causes and solutions, a good first step is to apply a racial equity lens to key U.S. federal nutrition assistance programs. The
research scope of this report is limited to the main nutrition programs that act as the first line of defense against hunger for
millions of people: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program
for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and Child Nutrition programs (which include school meals, after-school meals,
summer meals, Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). The Food
Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)3 for Indigenous communities and the Nutrition Assistance Program
(NAP)4 that operates in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are also
referenced in the SNAP section.
The goal of the analysis is to identify additional ways these programs can apply
racial equity principles in order to move the country closer to the time when
people of color are no longer disproportionately food insecure and no longer
disproportionately at risk of food insecurity.
reduce hunger, and they
This report (1) discusses what it means to end hunger and malnutrition; (2)
already apply equity
makes the case that the United States cannot end hunger without applying a
racial equity lens; (3) analyzes how each program has reduced food insecurity
principles in some ways.
by adopting equity principles related to class, gender, and race; and (4) offers
This paper explores
recommendations on how each program can accelerate progress against food
ways these efforts can
insecurity and hunger by more deeply applying a racial equity lens.
The analysis in this paper was informed by organizations in the anti-hunger and
anti-poverty community, including practitioners and researchers of color, who are
committed to ending hunger in the United States. There is a growing consensus
among advocates and researchers that equity matters. The good news is that nutrition programs reduce hunger, and they
already apply equity principles in some ways. This paper explores ways these efforts can be strengthened.
Organizations that are advocating for racial equity to be applied in anti-hunger and anti-poverty policies and practices must
also be equipped to apply this lens on a daily basis. This lens should inform organizational internal practices, including hiring,
office culture, decision making, policy and program design, advocacy strategies, and retention/promotion. To learn more, see
the chart in Appendix, Tool 1 on pages 73-75.
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