The United States’ largest Latino non-profit advocacy group UnidosUS reported that by last October, around 20% of Florida’s Latino residents were met with food insecurity compared to 11.6% of White residents of Florida.
Florida Latinos And Hispanics Face Food Insecurity
A vast majority of Latinos in the state said that they and their family members have undergone unemployment since last March which is quite higher than the 39.5% of White Floridians who lost their job.
The federal governments’ Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP- also known as Food Stamp Program) was mainly organized to reduce such food scarcity issues particularly for the minority groups in Florida. But many of them are unable to participate due to their language and status.
An estimated number of 4 million Latinos are present in the U.S alone of which most are Florida residents but are unable to or reluctant to participate in SNAP.
With the sudden occurrence of the coronavirus pandemic, Latino unemployment scaled from 4% to a shocking 19% across the nation.
This impacted the already existing food disparities. UnidosUS stated that approximately 60% of Florida Latinos are worried about their children’s accessibility to school meals.
University of South Florida (USF) Professor David Himmelgreen commented on this by stating that food insecurity especially among children can result in serious physical health problems such as Diabetes, Stunted growth, Asthma, Malnutrition, etc as well as various mental health conditions. The weak immune system also makes them more prone to diseases such as Covid-19.
Himmelgreen said that Latinos and Hispanics are usually more prone to health issues compared to people outside their community.
He also pointed that Tampa Bay is a huge provider of deserts. He had formerly volunteered to hoist discussions between USF and Feed Tampa Bay for starting a food pantry.
The food pantry has then met with significant demand for healthy and nutritious food.
Executive Director of the Hispanic Services Council Maria Pinzon stated that they had witnessed countless families approaching these food pantries during the pandemic.
The Council has also helped to provide food assistance to Tampa Bay’s Hispanic families where Pinzon translates the instructions to make it more accessible.
Hispanic children comprise one-third of 1.1 million children in Florida. But they too are faced with eligibility barriers that prevent them from participating in any public health programs.
The Congress is said to have taken various measures to tackle food insecurity among children throughout the nation via programs such as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT).
Health advocacy groups demand more measures to be implemented to ensure complete food security for all children.
U.S Representative Kathy Castor said that Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic plan is meant to allocate $130 billion for safe school reopenings and children’s educational needs during the pandemic.
She also mentioned that his latest executive order of increasing SNAP by 15% would be highly beneficial but only if it was extended in September.