196873 Pilot study of an community-based initiative to reduce food insecurity in a low-SES urban setting

Monday, November 9, 2009

Allyson Baughman, MPH , School of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA
Emily Rothman, ScD , Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Christa Drew, BA , Worcester Food Advisory Council, Worcester, MA
Background/Introduction: The Hunger Free and Healthy initiative is a community-based, multi-component intervention aimed to decrease the proportion of households experiencing food insecurity in a low-SES urban setting. The intervention sought to accomplish this goal through an innovative approach of influencing both proximal and root causes of hunger. The intervention consisted of skill building classes (cooking, gardening, budgeting, English as a second language, and GED), subsidized participation in Community Shared Agriculture, and individually tailored case management.

Methods: The pilot year of this program was evaluated using pre and post intervention surveys of 22 intervention participants. Quantitative data was supplemented with qualitative data collected in participant focus groups.

Findings: Three times as many participants reported not having enough to eat at baseline as at the post-test (27% v. 9%, respectively, NS). From pre-test to post-test, participants reported that the average number of days they did not have food or money to buy food decreased from 9 to 2 (NS). A substantial increase in the proportion of participants reporting the recommended amount of vegetables (45% v. 72%, Fisher's exact, p<.10) was observed.

Conclusion: This pilot study attempted to impact food insecurity among residents of a low-SES urban setting by addressing both proximal causes such as access to fruits and vegetables, and root causes such as poverty and underemployment. The multi-component intervention was well received, and despite limitations, the results suggest that the intervention may be effective at reducing food insecurity and improving certain nutrition-related outcomes in a similar community.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the “Hunger Free & Healthy” initiative. Discuss the background literature on food insecurity programs. Identify successes and challenges of program implementation.

Keywords: Food Security, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was a member of the research team that conducted the intervention research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.