Food insecurity disproportionately affects people with disabilities because they are often at higher risk of unemployment and lower-paying salaries. Additionally, people with disabilities are more likely to encounter obstacles with transportation and accessibility at work. Economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic make food insecurity an even more widespread issue for people with disabilities, especially in developing countries. Around the world, there is a strong link between disability and food insecurity. Fortunately, solutions exist to help reduce poverty and alleviate food insecurity among people with disabilities.
Social and Economic Disparities
People with disabilities face an array of challenges that make them more susceptible to poverty and food insecurity. For example, stigmatization and discrimination increase the likelihood of people with disabilities facing hunger and malnutrition. This marginalized group is also at increased risk of enduring poor living conditions and limited access to health care.
From a young age, people with disabilities are less likely to have access to education. This makes it more difficult to secure job opportunities and afford basic essentials as an adult. Social services and assistive technologies for disabilities also tend to be scarce in developing countries. A variety of socioeconomic factors, intensified by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, drive the link between food insecurity and disability.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are several ways to combat food insecurity among people with disabilities. One way is to provide federal and local disability assistance. Disability assistance programs help people with disabilities obtain the economic means to meet and sustain their basic needs. Disability assistance is designed to compensate for lower earnings and higher living expenses that people with disabilities often face, especially in low-income areas.
However, many disability assistance programs do not provide enough assistance to fully combat poverty or food insecurity. Proper funding and resources are necessary for disability assistance programs to succeed in addressing the link between food insecurity and disability.
In contrast to disability assistance programs, USDA also advocates food assistance programs that are designed to provide food sources to people with disabilities. However, food assistance programs are only short-term solutions to food insecurity. These types of programs rarely protect people with disabilities from long-term poverty and food insecurity. People with disabilities often have difficulties making their way to food distributors, managing food resources and preparing food on their own. Food assistance programs typically do not address any of these issues. Therefore, in order to fully address the connection between food insecurity and disability, people with disabilities need equal access to long-term economic opportunities. Food assistance programs can help combat food insecurity, but cannot single-handedly address the problem.
In the long run, a combination of public and private disability and food assistance programs may be necessary to combat food insecurity among people with disabilities. Additionally, reforming education systems and workplaces to make them more accessible could allow many people with disabilities to pull themselves and their families out of poverty and food insecurity. Removing social and economic barriers is essential in the fight against food insecurity, especially for people with disabilities.
– Cleo Hudson