(Washington, D.C., Tuesday, February 12, 2019) – February is Black History Month, and while hunger and poverty declined among African Americans in 2017, food insecurity has still not dropped enough this past year to match the one percent increase African Americans saw in 2016.

The higher rates of poverty and hunger among African Americans are direct results of systemic inequity through racial and gender discrimination. While the United States has an overall poverty rate of 12.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census, within the African American community, the poverty rate is 21.2 percent. This rate is even higher in African American female-headed households at 30.3 percent.

African Americans were the ONLY racial group that saw a DECREASE in household income. Consequently, racial inequity has widened to a $30,000 difference in median household income.

Food insecurity among African American households have been relatively the same since about 2007. At the current rate of decline, African Americans would not become food secure until 2048—that’s almost 30 years from now.

Moving forward, we are encouraged by House Speaker Pelosi’s affirmation after the mid-term elections of the need to address hunger and poverty in our country that continues to exist, despite our nation’s history as being the wealthiest in the world.

We are equally encouraged by the incoming diverse Congress many of whom have also committed to addressing hunger and poverty.

To address hunger and poverty, particularly among communities of color, we have to start applying a racial equity lens to our policies and practices. Racial equity essentially means that all racial groups have the opportunity to achieve optimal outcomes, and right now, as a result of discrimination and resources segregation, we see that the reality of equality has not yet been achieved.

Ways that inequity contributes to hunger and poverty in the African American community:

  • Unemployment and low wages;
  • Less access to quality and affordable education;
  • Higher healthcare costs;
  • Less access to credit;
  • Higher debt levels; and
  • Higher levels of incarceration.

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