The pandemic has confronted thousands with the question of when and where their next meal will come from. For many, there’s ambiguity about whether rent should be paid or food put on the table. But the topic of food insecurity is no new phenomenon in the United States -it is something the pandemic has underscored.
Limited access to food and healthy kinds of it has affected countless Americans since the beginning of 2020. The pandemic demonstrated that low-income families and people with volatile wages are just as susceptible to food insecurity as those without work. Moreover, the pandemic’s disturbance in agricultural productivity and supply lines contributed to the food insecurities already felt by millions of Americans.
From the start of 2020, grocery prices increased by more than 3 percent. Factor this into areas like South LA that have limited access to supermarkets ﹣areas known as ‘food deserts’ ﹣ and it is no wonder why families with financial uncertainties are struggling to feed themselves.
But the pandemic has made it clear whom food insecurity affects the most: Latinos and African Americans. What is more troubling is that food insecurity amongst Latino and African American populations was a reality before the pandemic. Look at areas of Los Angeles like South Central or Inglewood -parts of which are located a mile or more from the nearest grocery store. What’s the demographic profile of these areas? Black and Latino folks.
The irony is that many Latinos and African Americans make up the bulk of the front-line workers we hear and read so much about. While their roles as EMTs or agricultural workers are hailed as patriotic, their struggles to afford food don’t get as much attention. Furthermore, many Latinos and African Americans that do not work on the frontlines are often employed in low-paying jobs which cannot be performed from home ﹣ a point to be made that the risk of coronavirus exposure is disproportionately higher in black and Latino communities.
Although the bond between race and our food system is inextricable, there are still ways to support the lower-income communities which many Latinos and African Americans fall into. Alongside government assistance programs, local non-profit organizations like the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank are helping to feed disadvantaged families and communities through the pandemic.