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The Latino Community and COVID-19: Food


Many New Yorkers have received food assistance during the pandemic.

Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

Our Hispanic Federation, together with the New America organization, recently conducted an investigation on the effects of thirteen months of pandemic in our community.

One of the three aspects considered in the study “Overcoming COVID-19: Economic Barriers for Latino Communities” was food. The others were jobs and housing. In the study we also formulated various recommendations with the purpose of reducing injustices and inequalities in these three aspects.

Although the Latino community is intensively involved in the production, preparation and distribution of food, 45% of Latinos said that during the pandemic they received food assistance from community or religious organizations.

Remarkably, this help was received by 54% of the people who responded in Spanish and 27% of those who responded in English.

In more than three out of 10 families with children there is concern about access to free or low-cost school meal programs. And more than two out of 10 Hispanic families have applied for food assistance, such as SNAP or food stamps.

Many did not ask for the food aid they needed because they were not eligible, but others did not, although it was their due for fear that it would disqualify them from applying for citizenship.

More than a third of those who received food support said that it did not meet all the needs of their families. Many single mothers whose children do not go to school have serious problems feeding them three full meals a day.

Some Hispanics mentioned difficulties with application procedures, while others said they couldn’t go to food banks or distribution centers because they didn’t have a car.

So far the results. Now for the recommendations. The first is that it is not only necessary to meet the immediate food needs of families, but also to respond to the historical injustices that caused them.

Governments must scale up, improve and better target food aid. For example, increasing access to free breakfasts and lunches for children who do not go to school.

Food distribution must also be expanded – even to those confined due to COVID-19 – and the supply of nutritious food must be guaranteed.

We also call on the federal government to increase access to SNAP and NAP programs and eliminate the Trump administration’s “public charge” policy, which deprived so many immigrant families of food aid. Likewise, the immigration persecution of people who visit soup kitchens and other places of assistance must be stopped.

And finally, community-based organizations providing emergency food aid need to be further supported and integrate a food distribution system that connects producers with affected communities.

Here you can consult the report “Overcoming COVID-19: Economic Barriers for Latino Communities” and our recommendations.

More information about our federation at www.hispanicfederation.com, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Let’s celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Hispanic Federation together, and see you next column!

-Frankie Miranda is the president of the Hispanic Federation

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