3 fast facts about hunger in the AAPI community

Food pantry worker carrying a box of food in Yorba Linda, California
May 25, 2022
by Abbie Wilson

There are many factors that contribute to an individual’s likelihood to face hunger, or food insecurity. The drivers of food insecurity include things like income, underemployment, and unemployment. Systemic racism, discrimination, forced displacement and structural inequities all contribute to food insecurity in many communities of color including the Asian American and Pacific Islander demographic. 

The AAPI community represents origins from dozens of countries from a large geographic area encompassing Asia and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Our research separates the data into two groups: Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Here are three facts about how hunger affects Asian American and Pacific Islanders. 

1. 1 in 5 Pacific Islanders face hunger 

Food insecurity varies greatly among Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, with some households experiencing higher rates. Pacific Islanders, or individuals from the Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia islands (which include Hawaii), face hunger at a rate of approximately 19% (or 1 in 5).  

2. 1 in 17 Asian Americans experience food insecurity 

Food insecurity rates are lower among Asian individuals overall (approximately 6%, or 1 in 17), but rates vary across different Asian identities. For example, food insecurity affects nearly 3% of Chinese individuals, nearly 9% of Filipino individuals, and nearly 13% of individuals who report another Asian identity than those listed. 

3. Disparities are more significant among recent immigrants from select Asian or Pacific Island nations 

Food insecurity rates are often higher among recent immigrant communities. Individuals who have a parent or were themselves born in Bhutan, Afghanistan and Nepal face hunger at some of the highest rates among Asian American and Pacific Islanders living in America. For example, 30% of recent immigrants from Bhutan experienced food insecurity. 

Making up less than 6% of the US population, data generalization has been difficult as the Asian American and Pacific Islanders group, especially because it represents heritage from dozens of countries. These figures reflect analyses by Dr. Craig Gundersen for Feeding America using data from the Current Population Survey, 2016-2020.