Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 8
How a racial equity lens was applied
The methodology for applying a racial equity lens was founded on the goal of centering the needs of communities of color
(see glossary). Given the current racial nutrition divides that exist, this process was divided into two thought processes. The
first part of the thinking was on closing the current racial nutrition divide (see glossary), whereby the programs would need
to achieve equal outcomes for recipients of color relative to their white counterparts. The second part of the thinking was on
ensuring that communities of color benefited from reaching optimal nutrition. As explained in the Foreword, policies that are
centered on those who have been traditionally left behind will automatically
benefit all who receive those policies, including white recipients. Both stages of
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO
thinking are integral to achieving comprehensive equity for all communities.
“CENTER” THE NEEDS OF
For Child Nutrition Programs, this meant providing targeted support that
COMMUNITIES OF COLOR?
addressed the inequitable conditions children of color living in lower-income
households face to ensure optimal nutrition. For women, infants, and young
“Centering” means simply
children participating in WIC, this meant achieving equitable breastfeeding
focusing attention. All decisions
outcomes. At the same time, this meant being sensitive to the inequitable
are informed by the barriers
structures that impact breastfeeding rates for women of color, as well as the
facing communities of color and
inequitable circumstances that disadvantage formula-fed children, such as
solutions aimed at overcoming
the unsafe drinking water in many communities. These sensitivities were
those barriers. Barriers and
important to consider as researchers thought through what it would take to
solutions are at the center of our
achieve equitable nutritional outcomes for infants of color and their mothers.
thinking and discussions.
For individuals and families participating in SNAP, this meant equalizing food
For more, please see the glossary.
security outcomes between recipients of color and their white counterparts.
Within each program, there are additional caveats to be addressed to help
close the current racial nutritional divide and propel the United States towards optimal nutrition for communities of color.
For a more detailed understanding of what racial equity is, see the Glossary and Appendix, Tool 2. For a more detailed understanding of the
research approach, please see the stages below, and also see page 73, to review detailed research questions used within each stage:
Stage 1: Do not assume that the program or policy did not already apply an equity lens. Many anti-hunger
programs already include an equity lens or efforts to promote equity in their program design—for example, gender
or class equity. Programs serve lower-income communities, so their overall goal is to help people with fewer resources
achieve equal outcomes. But for many reasons, some within the program’s purview and some outside its control,
equal outcomes are not always the result. Using additional equity lenses, including a racial equity lens, can move the
program closer to its goal.
Stage 2: Analyze the outcomes for each racial and ethnic group. If outcomes are not equal across participants of all
races, then there is room to use a strengthened racial equity lens to adjust the inputs to achieve equal outcomes. The
way to do this is to put the needs of communities of color at the center of the analysis in order to identify whether or
how barriers to equal outcomes are addressed and how these program or policy elements can be improved.
Stage 3: Analyze why and how the outcomes of each racial and ethnic group were different. Once racial
and ethnic disparities are identified, it is important to respond to the history and other factors that created these
divides. Understanding the “why” and “how” behind the data is critical, especially when determining which
recommendations are the most culturally sensitive and appropriate in addressing the historical trauma associated
with the disparity.
Stage 4: Use a racial equity approach to ensure that experts of color are equitably engaged in leading this
project and shaping the narrative. To see what it means to equitably engage people of color, please see text
box on page 73. Any racially equitable approach enables and empowers people of color to make decisions about
how their narrative is portrayed. It is critical to racial equity that people of color be empowered to exercise true
leadership. This project, for example, empowered authors and researchers of color who are experts to lead the
development of the methodology. During consultations, they met with program participants who are people and
APPLYING RACIAL EQUITY TO U.S. FEDERAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: SNAP, WIC AND CHILD NUTRITION