A Rights-Based Approach to Address the Impact of Climate Change on Food Apartheid

Kayla Burley, MPH, Rachel Augustin, MPH and Tiffany Bryan, MPH
Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

APHA's 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo (Nov. 2 - Nov. 6)

Background: Climate change has deleterious effects on food security in the United States (US) including loss of arable land. Low food security means having inconsistent access to quality foods needed for a vigorous life. Low-income communities of color and female-headed households disproportionately suffer from low and very low food security.

Objective: Analyze the impact of climate change on food apartheid and recommend a rights-based approach to help the US meet its obligations.

Methods: Systematic review of the human rights framework which is inclusive of treaties, documents, supplements, declarations, and conventions.

Results: People who are food insecure are the first that climate change affects. In 2017, the rates of low food security for Black (22%), Hispanic (18%), female-headed (30%), and low-income (31%) families with children were higher than the US average (11.8%). Low-income and minority families are apt to live in neighborhoods located in urban heat islands due to the lack of trees and green spaces. Fast-food companies target low-income compared to high-income neighborhoods. Also, climate change affects people whose livelihoods come from agricultural careers, including Black farmers who are subject to discriminatory lending policies for farmland purchases and migrant farm-workers. In the 2012 agricultural census, 1.4% of the nation’s 3.2 million farmers were Black.

Conclusions: Taken collectively, the current US administration’s inaction and complete disregard for climate change will prove to be detrimental to access to food for minority and low-income communities and minority farmers. Recommendations are for stricter enforcement of consequences of human rights violations.

Advocacy for health and health education Diversity and culture