Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 56
within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs, as well as the linguistic needs, of consumers, recipients, and/
or participants.242 Achieving racial equity would require honoring cultural and linguistic competency when federal policies are
designed and when state and locall governments administer them. Tribal sovereignty must also be honored.
For more information on cultural and linguistic competency, access information from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Cultural competency is different than cultural humility. Both should be learned and practiced to ensure that interpersonal racism is addressed.
Cultural Humility: Cultural humility is a practice that is necessary to the process of developing and maintaining mutually
respectful and dynamic partnerships with different communities.243 This practice incorporates a lifelong commitment to selfevaluation and self-critique. In nutrition programs, it includes efforts to redress the power imbalances in the dynamic between
staff and recipients. This includes but is not limited to patient-physician relationships and relationships between WIC, SNAP,
and CNP caseworkers and front line staff and program beneficiaries. Cultural humility is different than cultural competency
since it is an ongoing process and focuses on self-critique and self-awareness of the practitioner or service provider.
Historical Trauma: Historical trauma refers to the violent history that many communities of color, particularly Indigenous
and African American communities, have been forced to endure in the United States. Historical trauma may take recognized
forms such as ethnocide (destruction of culture, language, etc.) or genocide (the mass killing of individuals in a specific group
with the intention of permanently obliterating that group)
Historical trauma started with colonization and the attempted genocide of Indigenous people as a result of European land
takeover, violence, and exposure to disease. The transatlantic slave trade was an attempt at genocide of Africans from different
parts of the continent. In addition to mass killings, Indigenous and African cultures lost customs and languages. This trauma
was compounded by continuing violence, including mass forced migration of Indigenous people and forced chattel slavery and
dehumanization of African people.
For Indigenous people, historical trauma continued after forced migration with continuing land takeover, violations of treaties,
and forced family separations with children sent to boarding schools. This resulted in the loss of traditions, culture, language,
and familial ties among generations of Indigenous people. Similar forms of historical trauma occurred for African Americans, in
abuses such as continued economic slavery through sharecropping and other forms of economic bondage, pervasive abuses in an
expanded racist criminal justice system, extrajudicial atrocities such as lynching, and legalized school and residential segregation.
Historical trauma impacts economic empowerment, mental health, and nutrition as well as other aspects of life. Applying a
racial equity lens to federal nutrition policies requires honoring the impacts of historical trauma and responding to its root
causes in order to start a healing process.
Returning Citizens: Returning citizens are individuals who are returning from incarceration, either from jail or prison. Some
returning citizens are released and are still under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, and others are released
without this stipulation. For more information about the connections between mass incarceration and hunger, and the realities
that confront returning citizens and their families, please read “Mass Incarceration: A Major Driver of Hunger.”
Prime-Aged Workers: Disconnected workers are prime-aged workers between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not equitably
connected with the workforce, for a variety of reasons, including employment discrimination leading to underemployment and/
or long-term unemployment. As a result of employment disparities, many disconnected workers have missed opportunities to
establish and build on skills—making them less “employable” in the eyes of many employees. This perception often reinforces
yet another cycle of disconnection for people in this group.
Breastfeeding Initiation Rate: The breastfeeding initiation rate is the percentage of new mothers who begin breastfeeding
their newborns. Women who do not initiate breastfeeding may be making that decision for a variety of reasons, including
having to return to work almost immediately; not having a workspace environment supportive of breastfeeding or pumping
breastmilk; having a premature infant not strong enough to breastfeed at first; having difficulty with the baby latching; or as a
Breastfeeding Duration Rate: Breastfeeding duration rate is the length of time for which a mother breastfed her infant.
Breastfeeding duration is often divided into (1) the period when an infant consumed breastmilk only (exclusive) and (2)
the period when an infant consumed breastmilk along with other forms of food (non-exclusive).244 Exclusive breastfeeding
durations may be measured at three-month intervals, e.g., “exclusively breastfed through 3 months” and “exclusively breastfed
through 6 months.” Non-exclusive breastfeeding durations often include “ever breastfed,” “breastfed through 6 months,” and
“breastfed through 12 months.” Each reference in this paper specifies which form, exclusive or non-exclusive, is meant.
APPLYING RACIAL EQUITY TO U.S. FEDERAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: SNAP, WIC AND CHILD NUTRITION