A Bit of History
Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman to be elected to Congress in 1968. Representative Chisholm took office in 1968, and during her term she played an essential role in the creation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. This program ensured that low-income mothers had access to free groceries for their children.
George Thomas Leland, the namesake for the 1993 Mickey Leland Childhood Hunger Relief Act, was a co-founder of the House Select Committee on Hunger. His work strengthened the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and made a lasting impact on protecting safeguards against hunger.
The Butterfly Effect
Black leaders have worked tirelessly to alleviate hunger in Black households, but it will take all of us to end the problem for good. Food insecurity across the nation is deeply affected by systematic discrimination.
Black communities face hunger at a significantly higher rate than white communities across the U.S. According to Feeding America, 24% of Black residents of Johnson County experienced food insecurity in 2020 – higher than the national rate of about 20% for Black households. Black people are two times more likely to experience food insecurity than the overall population of the U.S.
At CommUnity, we could talk your ear off about the cycle of crisis because it’s important to consider that a crisis like food insecurity does not exist in a void.
Food insecurity leads to poor nutrition or malnutrition, which leads to a health crisis. A health crisis brings bills that stack up, especially for those without a job that offers health insurance or without any insurance at all, which leads to a financial crisis. With fewer financial resources, the grocery budget is often the first thing to flex in order to pay rent, utilities, and other bills. So a financial crisis leads to food insecurity. And an emotional crisis looms over the whole cycle.
So it’s impossible to look at food, financial, emotional, and physical health as being completely separate from one another.
When systemic discrimination plays a major role in any one of these types of crisis, you can see why hunger rates for Black communities are SO MUCH higher than that of white communities.
The intersectionality between crisis, discrimination, and our role in it all is complicated, to say the least. So how can we work together to disrupt the cycle of crisis for our neighbors?
Building a Better Future
Develop meaningful relationships with your Black neighbors, and realize that being a good ally means uplifting their voices, not speaking on behalf of them. Our blogs over the last month have shown the intersection of these disparities. The weight of all of these things is a crisis, and it’s hard to advocate for yourself when you are constantly trying to stay afloat. It is the duty of allies to take the burden of advocating off of our Black neighbors who are just trying to live. This could be as easy as simply engaging your friends on the issues or speaking out to your local elected officials.
Learn more about the intersectionality of food insecurity, health, and systemic discrimination: