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Feeding America: Identifying Racism in the Drivers of Food Insecurity

This dashboard digs into how systemic racism drives disparities in five economic indicators that impact a family's ability to access food: disability, homeownership, median income, poverty, and unemployment.

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The data

The dashboard contains data from the 2019 American Community Survey on five population-level indicators: poverty, homeownership, disability, median income, and unemployment. The data is available at the national, state, and county level, as well as by food bank service area—a metric Feeding America creates by aggregating all data on counties served by a particular food bank.

The visualization

For each of the five variables, a map provides a national and state-level view of rates per ethnicity of focus; once a state is selected, county-level data becomes available for that state. A key element of the dashboard are the bubble charts that accompany each map. The bubble charts communicate two key pieces of information: disparities in outcome by race, and the proportion of the population in each jurisdiction that identifies as each racer or ethnicity.  

The historical context

Food insecurity is an economic condition, influenced by the five factors analyzed in the dashboard. The disparities evident in those factors stem, in many cases, from systemic racism and bias. Black Americans experience low homeownership rates, for instance, because of historical redlining in real estate. This dashboard shows how cascading barriers amount to food insecurity today.  

The current implications

Feeding America's primary motivation in creating this dashboard was to better understand the depth of racial disparities in the communities they serve, and how to address them. The organization's network of food banks can use this dashboard to inform their direct work in communities, as well as advocacy efforts they may undertake at the local level to push for more resources to build equity. While Feeding America is engaged with hunger relief, they know that food insecurity is a symptom of so many other economic disparities that need addressing.

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Data Deep-Dive

Key takeaways to guide analysis

Multiple pathways to understanding

Food insecurity is complex and influenced by multiple economic factors; this dashboard shows five indicators that impact hunger in America.

Disaggregating data reveals disparities

In DC, the median income for all races is $86,420: nearly 40% the national rate. But in the Capital, Black residents only earn a median income of $45,072.

Small population, large disparities

Native American residents represent just 1.7% of the overall U.S. population but have the highest overall poverty rate, at 24.9%.