Diversity, Inclusion, and Food Security

Guest Blogger: Fay Smith

Food security is crucial to an individual’s well-being and quality of life. However, accessing nutritious food can be a struggle for some people.

For example, one report showed that 230,000 Long Island citizens struggle with insufficient food. That’s more than one in every nine people on Long Island.

This struggle is much more challenging for individuals and families from diverse backgrounds, including those of different races, cultures, sexual orientations, and health conditions.

For example, a mother who just received a cancer diagnosis will have to contend with her and her children’s need for healthy food in addition to bearing the weight of her health condition.

If you’re in that situation, you’ll need all the help you can find. You can explore the agencies available on Long Island or check out MotherhoodCommunity’s resources for helpful tips on addressing your situation.

You may wonder why and how food insecurity affects people on Long Island relative to their race, culture, sexual orientation, and health condition. You may also want to know Long Island’s statistics regarding these factors.

Suppose you have a severe health condition, and you and your family are also experiencing food insecurity. In that case, you should know if there are agencies available to people on Long Island who have the same situation as yours and what services you can access to get help.

Read on to learn more about food insecurity and where people can access food assistance programs in Long Island. This article discusses the impact of food insecurity on people on Long Island, including the statistics concerning races, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and health conditions.

How Food Insecurity Impacts People From Diverse Backgrounds

Food insecurity refers to a household-level economic and social condition of uncertain or limited access to food. Note that food insecurity does not necessarily cause hunger but can still lead to such an outcome.

A Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine study showed that the number of older adults who are food insecure is alarmingly increasing in the United States, with 8.4% of older adults reporting food insecurity.

However, this statistic is disproportionately higher in Hispanic and African American older adults than in White non-Hispanics.

The same study also noted that women with food insecurity were more likely to have lung diseases and diabetes after adjusting variables for race or ethnicity, BMI (body mass index), smoking, health insurance, education, and age.

These findings suggest that food insecurity affects people at varying levels and backgrounds.

For example, Long Island Cares, a Long Island-based non-profit organization fighting against hunger in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, reported in a recent study that among their clients, 54% are Hispanic/Latinx while African Americans make up 18% and Caucasian 21%.

The Long Island Cares report also indicated that 30.5%  food-insecure Long Islanders are children, while 20.5%  are seniors.

The older adults of Long Island’s food-insecure population may also be at increased risk for illness and premature death.

Another report showed that 3% of Long Islanders who receive food assistance are homeless. Many of these individuals also have physical disabilities, which limits their employment prospects.

Food access may also depend on neighborhood conditions. For instance, a full-service supermarket or grocery store may take much work in some low-income, rural, and urban neighborhoods.

Overall, the information above indicates that food insecurity may be affected by factors such as employment, income, age, race (ethnicity), and health condition.

Meanwhile, researchers noted in adjusted models that lesbian and bisexual women were 52% more likely to be food insecure than heterosexual women.

Still, food insecurity and its impact on health outcomes and disparities need more research. In future studies, researchers may have to examine other factors.

Why Some Population Groups Are More Likely to Experience Food Insecurity

Various reasons exist why some demographics, especially minority groups, are more likely to face food insecurity than others.

For example, discriminatory policies like having fewer accessible financial resources may explain why Black people are more likely to face food insecurity than their White counterparts.

At the same time, family income and household sizes may also affect the likelihood of a particular demographic experiencing food hunger.

Households with children may have a slightly higher income than the general population. However, these households may also experience more significant budget constraints since they have larger populations, which often means more mouths to feed.

Meanwhile, as indicated above, people belonging to sexual minorities like lesbians and bisexuals may be more likely to face food insecurity. This incident may be due to the gaps in access to financial resources that some members of the LGBTQ community experience.

There’s a significant amount of underemployment, unemployment, and income disparities negatively impacting LGBTQ communities. They may also experience workplace hiring discrimination.

All these factors may result in poverty among LGBTQ populations, increasing the likelihood of experiencing food insecurity.

Moreover, household types, income levels, geographical location, and health status that may increase the likelihood of experiencing food insecurity correlate and typically reinforce each other.

For example, people living in rural areas may also have lower incomes, higher healthcare costs, and fewer accessible grocery stores where they can buy healthy food.

Food insecurity requires an integrated approach that addresses the root causes, like income inequality, racism, and lack of access to affordable healthcare.

Effective and equitable solutions must focus on the unique needs of various demographic groups.

Where and How to Access Local Food Assistance Programs on Long Island

If you’re a Long Islander, you have these primary options when experiencing food insecurity: non-profit and government food assistance programs.

Long Island Cares provides shared office space for organizations serving food-insecure people.

The Long Island-based non-profit offers various programs for people of diverse backgrounds, including older adults, veterans, immigrants, people with severe health conditions like cancer, children, single-parent families, homeless people, and the LGBTQ community.

These programs include food drives, education, advocacy, and other youth programs.

At the same time, New York State also offers group-specific programs for food-insecure individuals.

For instance, the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDH) Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) offers free, nutritious food to adults 60 and older. CSFP serves approximately 36,000 older adults each month.

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program participants can purchase fresh produce at farmers’ markets during the summer months.

The market offers the following quality foods

  • Cheese
  • UHT and nonfat dry milk
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Canned vegetables and fruits
  • Canned meat, chicken, and fish
  • Fruit juices
  • Rice, spaghetti, whole grain rotini, macaroni
  • Peanut butter, dried beans, canned beans

CSFP also offers the following services:

  • Demonstrations of how to prepare nutritious meals
  • Health and nutrition information from nutritionists
  • A referral to a health care provider or a social service agency for other services that you may need


  1. Sex and Race/Ethnic Disparities in Food Security and Chronic Diseases in U.S. Older Adults


  1. Black communities face hunger at a higher rate than other communities


  1. Child Food Insecurity




  1. Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)


  1. Food insecurity and SNAP use among sexual minority people: analysis of a population-based sample from National Health Interview Survey, 2017


  1. Rosati, Dr. Jessica. “The State of Food Insecurity on Long Island.” 2022



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