Increasing access to healthier food and to federal nutrition assistance programs could help stem growing food insecurity in the Latino community, where nearly one in five people (19.6%) have limited or no access to nutritious food each year, according to a new report released on December 20 by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. The report is Sin Provecho: Latinos and Food Insecurity, and the executive summary can be downloaded from here.
“Lack of access to resources is forcing far too many Latino families into choices no one should have to make, such as between having a roof over their heads or putting food on the table. A lack of affordable, nutritious food also has devastating health consequences, such as increasing hunger and obesity, affecting not only the Latino community but the well-being of our entire nation,” stated Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.
Among the report’s findings:
- Healthy foods may be out of reach for many low-income and Latino communities. One study found that predominantly Hispanic communities had 38% less fresh fruit and vegetable retailers than areas with smaller Hispanic populations.
- Many eligible Latinos are not participating in food assistance programs. Data suggest that more than three million eligible Hispanics are not participating in the Food Stamp Program. Lack of culturally- and linguistically-appropriate information and confusion about eligibility rules are common reasons why Latinos are not participating at higher levels.
- Many Latino legal immigrants and U.S. citizens are restricted or deterred from accessing food stamps. Numerous legal immigrants are barred from participating in the Food Stamp Program. Furthermore, due to fear and confusion about program restrictions, U.S. citizen children with immigrant parents are far less likely than U.S. citizen children with a citizen parent to participate in the Food Stamp Program.