Accessibility and Food

July 27, 2023

This month is the 33rd anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There’s still much to be done regarding the centering of people with disabilities’ voices and prioritizing accessibility as a culture. But we wanted to take a moment to appreciate the efforts of activists in the past that have led us to such historic legislation. 

We wanted to look here in our own backyard. Here in Denver, on July 5th and 6th of 1978, nineteen members of Atlantis/ADAPT, later dubbed the Gang of 19, took to Colfax & Broadway to stop traffic and demand accessible public transportation. At the time, RTD had 213 buses in their fleet, with only 10 being wheelchair accessible. Over the two days people were on rotation with their wheelchairs in front of the buses blocking their passage at the incredibly busy intersection chanting “We will ride!” to attract attention from RTD. This movement received national attention. This action led to a lawsuit that was settled, and RTD installed wheelchair ramps in all buses on their fleet. This historic lawsuit was one of many referenced in the push for Congress to pass the ADA into law in the 90s. 

There have been strides made since ‘78 to continue the disability justice movement. The passing of ADA was in the eyes of many simply codifying basic justice for people with disabilities in our country. True equality is still the goal. 

One area where the vast differences between people with disabilities and able-bodied Americans is food insecurity. People with a disability are 3x as likely to have experienced hunger in the last 30 days than an able-bodied American. Since the onset of the pandemic, 56.9% of Medicare recipients that have a disability and are under the age of 65 are food insecure because they do not have enough money to go purchase more food. 

A cart full of food being taken home from a Mobile Food Market.

With recent reductions in SNAP allotments to pre-pandemic levels, and continued inflation in the cost of food, we anticipate that when looking back at 2023 we’ll see this data updated to reflect an even greater amount of food insecurity both locally and nationally. 

We Don’t Waste’s vision is that food goes to people, not landfills, and is accessible to all. Accessible to all is the key! We Don’t Waste operates Mobile Food Markets about 8 times per month in neighborhoods that are food deserts, and we work with over 100 food recipient agency partners that support communities in need of food access. 

One way We Don’t Waste is making food accessible is by creating a new accessibility phone line for our Mobile Food Markets so that folks with limited mobility can speak with We Don’t Waste staff to get food safely and with dignity at each market. 

As the center of this complex web of Mobile Food Markets and food recipient agency partnerships, We Don’t Waste is able to serve a diverse community of our neighbors. If you would like to support our work, consider donating some of your time as a volunteer, get your company involved as a corporate sponsor to make an impact felt by the whole community, or become a donor to support the work We Don’t Waste’s staff does each and every day!