Food insecurity among those with disabilities has been common and even more prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to provide meals to seniors and the disabled are vital. Still, funding can be hinged on federal grants, state money, county budgeted support, fundraising, or donations.
Many homebound people can’t use congregate centers and rely on home meal delivery. Meal delivery services vary in terms of delivery dates and food items. Some are prepared in the microwave, packaged, or kept chilled. Each week, 2,419 people in Santa Barbara County, California are, served. These numbers vary every week.
Food insecurity is more likely to occur in households with disabled members. Food insecurity affects families with an adult who receives federal or state disability benefits 22% of the time. In comparison, it affects households with an adult with a disability but does not receive benefits 33% of the time. Households without an adult who is disabled only experience food insecurity in 8% of cases.
Food insecurity is associated with a higher risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as poor diet quality, hence higher rates of food insecurity, may lead to poorer health outcomes among people with any disability. These health disparities are exacerbated in part by income disparities between people with and without disabilities. The poverty rate among those with disabilities is approximately 26%, but only 11% among those without a disability.
As someone with Cerebral Palsy, the fact that many disabled people don’t have regular access to food is heartbreaking to me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to struggle with food insecurity. Accessing food can be challenging for many of us. Cerebral Palsy prevents me from driving, so I must rely on my PCA to drive me to the grocery store. What about people who don’t have help or struggle to find home care workers? Nobody should have to go hungry. Disabled people around the globe should have access to nutritious food.
Cahill, Rachel M., and Laura J. Samuel. “Food Insecurity in the Disability Community: Disparities in Snap Access: .” Health Affairs, Health Affairs , 17 May 2021, https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20210513.420153/.
Palminteri, John. “Meals Programs for Seniors and the Disabled Look for Stable Funding.” KEYT-TV, KEYT-TV, 23 Aug. 2022, https://keyt.com/health/2022/08/23/meals-programs-for-seniors-and-the-disabled-look-for-stable-funding/.