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The Pandemic & Hunger: A note from Lauren on hunger and racism

The last few months have brought a humbling and much-needed reckoning in regards to the roles we play in upholding systemic racial injustice and inequity—but more importantly, I hope we’ve also found roles we can play in breaking them down.

Part of my role, as the Founder of FEED and a person dedicated to fighting hunger, is to deepen my understanding of issues that cause hunger and ultimately, help seek out solutions. Racism is a one such issue.

The reality is that something as superficial as skin color is a major factor in determining whether or not you will find yourself in line at a soup kitchen. This is unacceptable.

As a result of racial inequality, people of color, particularly Black people, do not have equal access to economic opportunities. This lack of opportunity causes cyclical poverty, which in turn causes food insecurity, and ultimately hunger.

These racial disparities are not new. And as the pandemic continues to sweep across the country, exposing vast systemic inequities, they are worsening.

  • In 2018, about 25 percent of Black households with children were food insecure. Today, the rate is about 39 percent, according to the latest census analysis by the Northwestern economists.
  • The growth of food insecurity in the Black community as a result of COVID is alarming. But the data becomes even more disturbing when compared to white households. “The racial disparities are stark, with 29 percent of Black households and 24 percent of Hispanic households reporting that children were not eating enough, compared with 9 percent of white households.”

The disportionate suffering felt by communities of color during the pandemic has made it increasingly clear how linked these issues are, as well as how deeply-rooted they are in the fabric of our society.

At FEED, we are committed to being an antiracist organization. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because we believe that being actively antiracist will help end hunger.

We are dedicated to playing an active role in addressing and identifying systems and policies that keep BIPOC individuals and families in a cyclical state of poverty, food insecurity, and hunger.

In a time of such unprecedented uncertainty, I am optimistic that we can view these stark racial inequities with fresh perspective and accountability and let it lead us into action.

Together, with collective action (even seemingly small ones), we can create lasting change – I’ve truly never believed that more.

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