Institutional Cultural Competency of Emergency Food Providers During the Recession
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Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population's growth counted for over half of the overall population growth in the U.S. Emergency food providers were unprepared for the increase in Latinos' needs for emergency food assistance. Emergency food providers demonstrated mixed levels of institutional cultural competency in their attempts to meet Latinos' needs immediately before, during, and after the most recent economic recession. The increased demand for emergency food during the recession encouraged Feeding America and its network members to dedicate more resources to increasing the amount of food distributed than to making services more accessible and culturally acceptable for Latinos. One food bank in Oregon created an outreach program to increase Latinos' access to its services, made Latinos' needs institutional priorities, and thus increased its institutional cultural competency. Its progress proved exceptional because most providers did not significantly increase their institutional cultural competency. The lessons from emergency food providers' shortcomings during the recession inform recommendations of what those providers must do in the future to increase Latinos' access to both emergency and non-emergency food services.