Nationally, the population identifying as Hispanic/Latino represents 16.9% (53.0 million people) of the U.S. population. The Latino population in the U.S. grew 43% over the last decade and growth increasingly occurred in new communities[i].  Overall population growth in the U.S. was just 9.7% over that time.[ii]  Latinos are disproportionately affected by poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment.  They are also more likely to receive emergency food assistance than their white, non-Hispanic peers and less likely to receive SNAP benefits. 

Unemployment

The Map the Meal Gap analyses demonstrate that unemployment is a major contributing factor to food insecurity.  Unemployment is significantly higher among Latinos than among white, non-Hispanics.

  • In 2012, Hispanics/Latinos were significantly more likely to be unemployed (10.3%)[iii] than non-Hispanic whites (7.2%).[iv]

Food Insecurity

Latino households are more than twice as likely to be food insecure as white, non-Hispanic households. Counties with majority Latino populations are disproportionately represented among the top 10% of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.

  • Nearly one in four (23.3%) Latino households are food insecure as compared to just one in 10 (11.2%) of Caucasian households and one in seven (14.5%) households overall.[v]
  • More than one in four Latino children (28.7%) live in food insecure households as compared one in six (16.9%) Caucasian children.[vi]
  • The 82 counties in 2011 with a majority Hispanic population compose 2.6% of all U.S. counties.  However, 16%  of these majority Hispanic counties fall into the top 10% of counties with the highest rates of general food insecurity and 55% of these majority Hispanic counties fall into the top 10% of counties with the highest rates of childhood food insecurity.[vii]
  • Of the top 10 counties in the nation with the highest food insecurity rates for children, nine are majority Hispanic counties.

Emergency Food Assistance

Latino households are disproportionately represented within the emergency food assistance client population. Latino children are nearly three times as likely to receive emergency food assistance as their Caucasian peers.

  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) Latino/Hispanic children in the U.S. live in families served by the Feeding America network, as compared with nearly 1 in 9 (11%) white, non-Hispanic children.[viii]
  • The number of adult Latino clients served by the Feeding America network increased by 66% between 2005 and 2009.[ix]

Poverty

Latino households experience disproportionate levels of poverty and have lower household income than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

  • Median income for Hispanic households ($39,005) is significantly lower than their White, non-Hispanic counterparts ($57,009).[x]
  • Poverty rates for Hispanics (25.6%) were nearly triple that of non-Hispanic Whites (9.7%).[xi]
  • 10.1 percent of Latinos live in deep poverty (less than 50 percent of the federal poverty threshold), compared to 6.6 percent of all people in the United States.[xii]

SNAP

Latino client households are less likely to receive SNAP benefits than white, non-Hispanic client households.

  • 41% of Latino families served by Feeding America reported no contact with SNAP whatsoever, as compared with 26% of African American families and 15% of white, non-Hispanic families.[xiii]
  • Only 41% of Latino families served by Feeding America participate in SNAP, as compared with 56% of African American families and 61% of white, non-Hispanic families.[xiv]

Nutrition and Obesity

Latino adults and children are at greater risk of obesity and diabetes than their African American and white, non-Hispanic peers. Diabetes and other chronic health conditions can further complicate the issue of food insecurity.

  • Hispanics are at greater risk of obesity than other racial and ethnic groups. In 2009, Hispanic Americans were 1.2 times as likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic Whites.[xv]
  • Lifetime risk estimates for developing diabetes is higher for both Hispanic men and women than for other ethnic groups. Hispanic women born in 2000 have a 52.5 percent risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime compared to 31.2 percent risk for non-Hispanic white females and a 49 percent risk among African American women. Similarly, Hispanic men have a 45.4 percent risk compared to a 26.7 percent risk among non-Hispanic white males and a 40.2 percent risk among African American men.[xvi]
  • Latino children and adolescents are also at greater risk of overweight and obesity than their white or African-American peers: 38.2% of Hispanic children age 2 to 19 are overweight or obese compared with 31.7% of all children.[xvii]
  • Hispanic children are more likely to develop diabetes than other children. Among children born in 2000, white boys have a 26.7 percent risk of being diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetimes, while Hispanic boys have a 45.4 percent lifetime risk. White girls born in 2000 have a 31.2 percent risk of being diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetimes, while Hispanic girls have a 52.5 percent lifetime risk.[xviii]


[i] ACS Table B03002. (2013). Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race. 2012 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

[ii] The Hispanic Population: 2010. (2011). U.S. Census Bureau.

[iii] CPS Table 4. (2012). Employment status of the Hispanic or Latino population by age and sex

[iv] CPS Table 3. (2012). Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population by sex, age, and race. Household data annual averages. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[v] Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Food Security in the United States in 2012. Table 2. USDA ERS.

[vi] Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Food Security in the United States in 2012, Statistical Supplement. Table S-3. USDA ERS.

[vii] Gundersen, C., Waxman, E., Engelhard, E., Satoh, A., & Chawla, N. (2013). Map the Meal Gap 2013, Feeding America.

[viii] Mabli, J., Cohen, R., Potter, F., Zhao, Z. (2010). Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] DeNavas-Walt, C., Proctor, B.D., & Smith, J.C. (2013). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012. U.S. Census Bureau.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Mabli, J., Cohen, R., Potter, F., Zhao, Z. (2010). Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Table 30 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: 2011. Table 31.

[xvi] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of Diabetes among Hispanics In Six U.S. Geographic Locations. http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/factsheets/hispanic.htm

[xvii] Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM and Flegal KM. “Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007–2008.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 303(3): 242–249, 2010

[xviii] Narayan KMV, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, et al. “Lifetime Risk for Diabetes Mellitus in the United States.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 290(14): 1884-1890, 2003.