Date of Defense:
May 14, 2021
The gender and sexual minority (GSM) community is disproportionately affected by food insecurity. However, very little literature is available on GSM eligibility and participation in nutrition assistance programs. Using National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2013 to 2018, this analysis investigated differences in eligibility for, and participation in, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) by sexual orientation. For this analysis, WIC eligibility was defined by having at least one child aged five years or younger, and having an income-to-poverty ratio of 1.74 or lower in the 1.74-cutoff sample, or 1.99 or lower in the 1.99-cutoff sample. From 2013 to 2018, sexual minority people had statistically significantly lower odds of WIC eligibility than heterosexual people (1.74-cutoff sample: OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.41-0.51; 1.99-cutoff sample: OR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.39-0.48). Bisexual people specifically had the highest percentage of WIC eligibility among sexual minority groups (1.74-cutoff sample: 5.9%, 95% CI = 4.4%-7.4%; 1.99-cutoff sample: 6.3%, 95% CI = 4.8%-7.8%). Among WIC-eligible parents, there was no difference in odds of WIC participation between sexual minority and heterosexual parents. Given that bisexual people are most likely to be WIC-eligible among sexual minority populations, materials should be targeted and tailored to this group to enhance awareness of food assistance programs such as WIC.
Keywords: Sexual Minorities; WIC Program; Insecurity, Food; Equity, Health