206447 Witnesses to Hunger: Mothers taking action to improve health policy

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:50 AM

Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH , Health Management and Policy, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Jennifer Kolker, MPH , Health Management and Policy, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Jenny Rabinowich, BA , Philadelphia GROW Project/Witnesses to Hunger, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
One in three female-headed households in the United States experiences food insecurity, defined as the lack of access to enough food for an active and healthy life. In 2007, 12.4 million children were at risk for hunger. With no real change in overall hunger rates over the past ten years, it is clear that our approach to food insecurity must shift radically. Because female-headed households and households with children have the highest prevalence of food insecurity and hunger in the US, low income mothers should be able to actively participate in the national policy-making dialogue about hunger in America.

Witnesses to Hunger is a participatory action project built to ensure that the women who understand poverty and nutritional deprivation from personal experience are able to inform the public and policymakers about their insights into welfare assistance and income support programs. Through a technique called “Photovoice,” Witnesses to Hunger provided digital cameras to 42 women who have young children in Philadelphia and recorded their stories about these photos. The women documented their experiences of hunger and poverty, and their ideas for change. Witnesses to Hunger created a website, several brief films and launched a traveling exhibit to inform the public and policy makers about hunger, poor housing, violent neighborhoods, and the struggle to find opportunities for young children to flourish.

This presentation will cover the photovoice and data analysis methodology, demonstrate the web site, and show the images and brief films that comprise the Witnesses to Hunger exhibit. We will also discuss the responses by the public, the media, and local, state and national policy makers.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the photovoice methodology used to inform national nutrition policy 2. Explore ways in which low-income mothers can engage with policy-makers 3. View examples of still and video images that educate the public about poverty and hunger

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Participatory Action Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a funded researcher, have published multiple articles, and have presented at APHA for years.
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.