In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. One is food insecurity.
The pandemic burdened the disability community even more severely. The U.S. Census Bureau’s COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey data from March 2021 revealed that 55.7 percent21 of disabled Medicare recipients under the age of 65 reported not having enough food or not having access to the foods they wanted. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calculated that, in 2020, disabled adults faced food insecurity at more than twice the rate22 of their nondisabled counterparts—with nonworking disabled adults three times more likely to be food insecure than nondisabled adults—due to the numerous adverse impacts of the pandemic. These additional challenges include concerns among disabled people who are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications about the increased risk of exposure that comes with shopping in person at the grocery store,23 as well as difficulties with food delivery programs such as financial strains and inconvenient delivery times.24
21.Carli Friedman, “Food insecurity of people with disabilities who were Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Disability and Health Journal 14 (4) (2021), available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8436149/.22.US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, “Interactive Charts and Highlights,” available at https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/interactive-charts-and-highlights/#disability (last accessed November 2021).
23. Kendra Crighton, “Immunocompromised community call for more options to get groceries during COVID-19,” Nanaimo News Bulletin, April 6, 2020, available at https://www.nanaimobulletin.com/news/immunocompromised-community-call-for-more-options-to-get-groceries-during-covid-19/.
24. Melissa L. Caldwell, “Why people with disabilities are at greater risk of going hungry during the pandemic,” PBS News Hour, May 7, 2021, available at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/why-people-with-disabilities-are-at-greater-risk-of-going-hungry-during-the-pandemic.