Employment as a Path Towards Greater Food Security For LGBTQ+ Youth: Convening Report

January 2024

In September 2023, the Williams Institute, the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth, and No Kid Hungry convened a group of community-based organizations to discuss employment as a means of addressing food insecurity among LGBTQ+ youth. This report presents findings and recommendations from the convening.

Stabilization of youth in housing was seen as a critical component of addressing both food
and employment needs.
Participants identified lack of support from a youth’s family of origin as a primary barrier to economic security.
Policymakers should examine eligibility criteria for SNAP and other public benefits to assess barriers for LGBTQ+ youth.

Executive Summary

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (“LGBTQ+”) youth1 experience disparities in accessing food. As many as one in five LGBT high schoolers experience hunger because there is not enough food at home and among 18-to-24-year-olds, approximately one in seven reported not having enough to eat the prior week. For many LGBTQ+ youth, insufficient access to food is connected to adverse life experiences, such as generational poverty, family rejection, homelessness, and employment discrimination.

Many organizations working with LGBTQ+ youth provide immediate access to food and other basic needs and, with older youth, support finding employment as a means to improve longer-term economic security. On September 12th, 2023, The Williams Institute, along with the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth (“BAGLY”) and No Kid Hungry, a national campaign to end the root causes of hunger by the organization Share Our Strength,2 convened a group of community-based organizations (“CBOs”) working at the intersections of food, employment, and LGBTQ youth to discuss effective strategies and common barriers to employment.

During the three-hour facilitated conversation, several themes emerged that outlined the role that LGBTQ organizations play in filling voids left by families of origin, the public safety net system, and other networks of support accessed by LGBTQ+ youth:

  • Stabilization. Many LGBTQ+ youth don’t have access to basic needs, such as housing, transportation, work-appropriate clothing, and updated identity documents. These needs must be addressed as a precursor to focusing on employment.
  • Safety Net Insufficiencies. Government programs that are intended to address economic insecurity and food insufficiency, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), are inadequate to address food insecurity among LGBTQ+ youth. However, states, municipalities, and community organizations can adopt programs to improve the impact of SNAP and similar programs and supplement them with other innovative strategies to improve access to food.
  • Mentorship. Some LGBTQ+ youth served by CBOs are estranged from family or other traditional support networks. One-on-one coaching by staff fills gaps in mentorship and guidance that adult family members often provide and supports these youth in developing problem-solving, employment, and other life skills.
  • Bridges to Inclusive Employment. Not all employers offer inclusive environments where LGBTQ+ youth can thrive. LGBTQ+ organizations can provide essential services to assist LGBTQ+ youth with finding a job at a place where they can succeed. Employers can also take steps to ensure they are inclusive places for LGBTQ+ youth to work.
  • Barriers for Community-Based Organizations. Capacity, resources, and funding constraints limit what programs can do to support LGBTQ+ youth. More flexibility in funding and program delivery, including room to adjust programs in response to LGBTQ+ youth feedback, and collaboration and coordination between organizations could broaden the reach and impact of these programs.
  • Promoting the Agency of LGBTQ+ Youth. LGBTQ+ youth bring ideas and expertise to the table. CBOs in our convening emphasized the value of peer-to-peer support, youth leadership, and hiring LGBTQ+ youth. LGBTQ+ youth should be engaged at all levels of a program or organization, including economic stabilization activities.

This report presents findings from the convening, recommendations based on those findings, and more information about the organizations that helped make this conversation possible.

Download the full report

Employment as a Path Towards Greater Food Security For LGBTQ+ Youth: Convening Report

At various points in this report, we will use subsets of this acronym, such as “LGBT.” This is due to limitations in the sources of data we are citing. For the purposes of this report, we focus on youth between the ages of 13 to 25, with a greater emphasis on those 18 and up who are more likely to be working.

Share Our Strength. (2023, September 20). Overview of our work. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from