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Study Finds High Food Insufficiency Rates Among LGBTQ+ New Englanders

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Thursday, March 23, 2023   

A new study from the University of New Hampshire found New England's LGBTQ+ residents experience higher rates of food insufficiency, the measure of whether a household generally has enough food to eat, than other people.

Research shows the overall food insufficiency rate in New England is more than 7%, yet it is nearly double for LGBTQ+ residents, and nearly triple for transgender people.

Isaac Leslie, extension assistant professor of community development at the University of Vermont who was a research associate at the University of New Hampshire, said while New England has a lower food insufficiency rate compared to the rest of the U.S., the study showed not everyone has the same advantage.

"Poverty and systemic discrimination are really at the center of the story here," Leslie asserted. "You see that reflected in food insufficiency rates."

Leslie noted researchers used data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, which in 2021, became one of the first national surveys to include measures of gender identity and sexuality.

LGBTQ+ New Englanders of color experience even higher rates of food insufficiency, with one in three Black transgender New Englanders not having enough food to eat in the past week. Researchers found LGBTQ+ people may be eligible for food assistance programs but feel unsafe providing detailed documents to enroll.

Leslie pointed out there are clear examples of systemic discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, even in progressive New England.

"And you don't find those until you start looking underneath the hood at rates like food insufficiency," Leslie explained.

Leslie added the findings suggest policymakers should address the ways in which racism and discrimination create an ongoing food crisis for LGBTQ+ New Englanders, especially those who are people of color. The findings are published in the journal Agriculture and Human Values.


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