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Unstable housing most cited reason for food insecurity among LGBTQ+ youth

85% of LGBTQ+ youth programs noted unstable housing as the main reason LGBTQ+ youth had inadequate access to food.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.com

Eighty-five percent (85%) of LGBTQ+ youth programs noted unstable housing as the main reason LGBTQ+ youth had inadequate access to food. These programs also highlighted other common causes of food insecurity among LGBTQ+ youth, including a lack of access to jobs that pay a livable wage, family food insecurity, a lack of family support, and transportation barriers.

This is according to a report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, which used data gathered from 73 LGBTQ+ youth programs affiliated with the CenterLink network or identified through a targeted internet search to examine their experiences and perspectives on addressing food insecurity among LGBTQ+ youth.

The most successful support strategies aligned with the multi-faceted needs of LGBTQ+ youth. These included providing meals or snacks directly, offering a food pantry, and giving gift cards to grocery stores or restaurants. However, strategies that required time and travel (such as referrals to off-site food pantries) or administrative hurdles (such as SNAP enrollment) were less successful.

“Community-based LGBTQ+ youth programs are feeding youth. With additional support, these organizations could grow their capacity and expand food access for LGBTQ+ youth,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, Research Director at the Williams Institute. And while some initiatives may be reliable sources of food for millions of students, “LGBTQ+ youth may not have the same opportunities to participate in them due to stigma and harassment.”

Additional findings included:

  • The most frequently cited sources of food for LGBTQ+ youth were food pantries or kitchens (92%), chosen family or friends (82%), and school meals (73%).
  • Only 60% of programs identified family of origin as a food source for the youth they serve, just slightly more than the percentage (56%) who identified obtaining food through street economies, such as sex work, the drug trade, and other nontraditional exchanges.
  • Among the programs that reported providing food directly to LGBTQ+ youth, less than half (42%) offered access to food daily, and over one-third offered food less than once a week or only on a case-by-case basis.
  • When LGBTQ+ youth programs were asked about broader changes for improving youth access to food, the majority prioritized access to transitional housing (77%), affordable housing (58%), and housing vouchers for youth ages 18 to 25 (55%).
  • Programs also recommended the following broader changes:
    • Increasing the minimum wage (51%)
    • Changing eligibility criteria (43%)
    • Free or discounted transit passes (41%)
    • Changing identity document laws (30%)

THE FULL REPORT IS AVAILABLE HERE.

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