Asian American families face food shortage over fears of violence upon going out, Census suggests

Thirty-seven percent of Asian American households reported not having enough to eat amid the COVID-19 pandemic because they were “afraid” or “did not want” to go out to buy food, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Key details: The figure comes from the agency’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS), which studies how the coronavirus is impacting U.S. households from a social and economic perspective.

  • Since April 2020, all race groups reported being more likely to experience food insufficiency due to COVID-19. However, Asian and white households had consistently lower rates of food insufficiency (both under 10%) than Black and Hispanic households through March 2021.

  • Still, Asian and white households had different reasons for their shortage. There were more white families who couldn’t afford to buy food (79%; Asians 63%), couldn’t get out to buy food (19%; Asians 16%), couldn’t get groceries or meals delivered to them (11%; Asians 5%) and didn’t find the food they wanted in stores (13%; Asians 5%).

  • Asian families surpassed whites in only one response. They were more afraid to go or didn’t want to go out to buy food (37%; whites 17%), according to the survey.

Why they’re afraid: Respondents were not asked why they were afraid to leave their homes, but the survey speculates a number of possible reasons -- including fears of “racially motivated violence.”

  • The Census Bureau said possible reasons for such fears include living in a high-crime area, in food deserts where shopping is inconvenient or in rural towns where drives are long.

  • When it comes to “racially motivated violence,” the survey cited the Justice Department’s documentation of the increase in anti-Asian violence, which includes “several well-publicized hate crimes.” NextShark has covered these incidents extensively.

  • “This may explain why, while fear of going out for food among non-Hispanic White adults declined between the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, fear among non-Hispanic Asian adults did not,” wrote Daniel J. Perez-Lopez and Lindsay M. Monte, statisticians from the agency’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division.

  • Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition tracking anti-Asian incidents throughout the pandemic, has reported 6,603 cases between March 19, 2020, and March 31, 2021. The group is reportedly bracing itself for more attacks after the results of the Wuhan lab investigation come out later this month.

  • "The AAPI community has experienced skyrocketing mental health challenges," Cynthia Choi, who co-founded the group, told NBC Bay Area. "So we're seeing the effects of racial trauma, anxiety, depression."

Featured Image via Getty

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