The Federal Farm Bill Will Take Food Out of the Mouths of LGBT Seniors
by Sheila Kuehl
May 02, 2018
Our country has come a long way in the last 15 years in our public embrace of the LGBT community, marked most notably by the victory, nationwide, of marriage equality. Yet serious challenges remain, particularly as the baby boomers among us begin to age. Advocates have begun to raise awareness of serious issues affecting the access of LGBT seniors to health care and housing — issues of availability, quality, and cost, all of which are often exacerbated by cultural incompetency or even outright discrimination. However, there’s a “third H” that no one is talking about: hunger.
Hunger, especially among older adults, doesn’t seem to be a top priority, especially for those in ‘leadership’ positions in our nation’s capital. Early in May, Congress will vote on House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway’s Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known as the Farm Bill. Flying under the radar, this bill enacts a fundamental and cruel shift in how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is administered for Americans who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. It plays politics with the lives of 41 million food-insecure Americans, chief among them older Americans. No attention is paid to the fact that LGBT older adults will be disproportionately impacted by these proposed changes.
On the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, my colleagues and I oversee the administration of SNAP to over 1 million people, nearly one in every 10 residents of L.A. County. The county is also home to nearly one-third of California’s LGBT community, more than 413,000 openly LGBT adults, many of whom are seniors for whom SNAP is a literal lifesaver.