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Intersecting Inequities in Food Assistance Programs

Alana Haynes Stein


This project examines how gender, race, housing status, and disability status affect the barriers that people face as they access food assistance programs. As the United States increasingly relies on private charity in place of a welfare state, I examine how inequities may be further perpetuated in food assistance programs for the most marginalized populations. The research is based on 18 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with clients of a peri-urban food bank and nearly 200 hours of participant observation at the food bank’s distributions. Adding to the literature on food assistance programs, I incorporate an intersectional approach. Through this lens, I identify organizational barriers to access that intersect across gender, race, housing status, and disability status to affect food assistance use. Thus, this research contributes to the food justice literature by examining how food assistance programs may not be designed to address the needs of the most marginalized populations, who tend to be less food secure.