I. Am. Tired:How COVID-19 has Further Impacted Food Insecurity within the African American Community
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Check-in with a friend today.
I think it is safe to say that 2020 was a long and tiresome year for the Black community. Between the blatant racism, senseless police brutality, and the endless streams of death and violence, we went through a lot. Adding to our list of problems, COVID shined a much-needed light on our failing economic and political systems.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that more Blacks are hospitalized for COVID, in large because of our high rates of chronic health conditions -- like heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. These illnesses weaken the immune system and make us more susceptible to the virus. What is less known is just how much race, food, and class have intersected in ways that have maintained the health and racial disparities.
African American communities have a long history of struggling to obtain fresh and unprocessed foods, with minority workers making up a disproportionate percentage of workers in the food industry who earn low wages and zero medical benefits. A study published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities found that "among food-insecure households, Black households were more likely to report that they could not afford to buy more food." Families who were not struggling with buying food before the pandemic now contribute to the 40% increase in foodbank usage.
In previous Coronavirus aid packages, Congress has approved additional emergency SNAP payments for millions of families but plans to increase SNAP benefits are blocked by Republicans who want to shrink the social program. This constant battle between our two parties is exhausting. What hope can the American people have if our lives are just pieces on a chessboard for those in power?
One thing the Coronavirus may have made clear is that environmental factors such as food access, stress levels, and financial stability play a huge role in addressing the problem of health and food inequalities.