Food Insecurity within the LGBTQ+ Community

June 26, 2023

(Photo by Grace Smith)

Happy Pride month from the We Don’t Waste team! We hope you enjoyed the parades and celebrations this past weekend, but it can also feel bittersweet after such a tumultuous year for the LGBTQ+ community. Most notable in the wins category being the fact that in GLAAD’s most recent study, it was found that 84% of non-LGBTQ+ Americans support equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community and 91% believe that the community should be free to live their life without any form of discrimination. 

On the other hand, The Human Rights Campaign recently announced a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans for the first time in its 40-year history. There were an astonishing 569 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into legislation in 2023, with 75 being signed into law. 

People within the LGBTQ+ community have known for many years that they are more likely to be discriminated against, or experience additional hardships. The implications of all these pieces of legislation ripple out and affect all aspects of people’s lives. One of the very tangible, unfortunate repercussions of the ongoing attempts to criminalize the queer community is food insecurity. 

Recent data shows that in Colorado:

This isn’t an issue that goes away as people age either. 22% of LGBTQ+ adults have experienced food insecurity, which is nearly twice the likelihood of other adults in our country. 

While there are many causational factors for food insecurity that intersect with identity, such as intergenerational poverty, there are other factors at work specific to the LGBTQ+ experience. Individuals who have experienced discrimination may not return to the same programs to receive support, especially in rural neighborhoods where resources are limited or areas where food support is religion-affiliated. 

Workplace and housing discrimination tied to LGBTQ+ identity is also a big factor leading to increased poverty and food insecurity. Family rejection has also created a disproportionate level of youth homelessness—28% of LGBTQ+ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives.

To do our part, We Don’t Waste partners with agencies that are not only tolerant of, but actively supporting the queer community.  TGTHR in Boulder is a youth shelter that served 70 young people this year who were rejected by their families because of their identities. The Empowerment Program takes a holistic approach to working with people of all gender identities and sexualities and helps individuals reach their goals, be it health, housing, employment, or education. 

Other partners like Wellpower or The Delores Project are also focused on providing inclusivity as the first step to wraparound services focusing on stability in mental health and housing. These support systems are vital for the wellbeing of the local LGBTQ+ community, and we are proud to provide food to these programs so that everyone gets the nutrition they need for a happy mind and body, and so that our agency partners can focus their funds on other programming to support their clients holistically and effectively. 

One of one We Don’t Waste’s core values is the belief that food is a human right. We know that inequities exist across food systems, and we work to end the structural inequities that lead to unequal food access and health outcomes. 

If you would like to help support your neighbors facing food insecurity, please consider getting involved by offering some of your time in our volunteer program, or by making a donation. Your support can make a difference in the lives of your neighbors, making it a healthier and happier community for all.