238370 Project Food for Thought: Youth Perspectives on a Baltimore Food Desert

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ryan Petteway, MPH , DrPH program, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley, CA
Lauren Adams , Center for Design Practice, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City is home to many food deserts, most of which are saturated with less healthy food establishments, such as fastfood restaurants, carryouts, and cornerstores. Recent efforts to address obesity and related causes of death and morbidity have gradually been expanded or modified to encompass underlying social determinants, particularly inequities in access to healthy food options. Accordingly, the community food environment is increasingly being recognized as a fundamental determinant of dietary/purchasing behaviors and diet-related health inequities. However, efforts and discussions thus far have proceeded without perhaps the most critical perspective and voice: youth.

Project Food for Thought is a youth photovoice project, coordinated by a local health department and a local art college, centered on the food environment, with a particular focus on inequity in food access as a barrier to community health. Cameras were given to 10 youth who live in a predominantly black (88%), high-poverty (44%) community in East Baltimore that is home to 40 carryouts, 6 fastfood restaurants, 15 cornerstores, and 0 supermarkets. The nearest supermarket is over 1 mile away and 68% of households do not own a vehicle. The youth were trained in basic camera use and general ethics/guiding principles of photography. They met on regular intervals to discuss their photos and narrate them from their own perspectives—telling their own story—and to help plan/guide the project. This presentation will provide an overview of what their work revealed and how participatory public heath practice, particularly through creative partnerships, can facilitate policy and community change.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe a process for engaging youth in local public health practice. Discuss the value and implications of photovoice as a standard public health practice component.

Keywords: Photovoice, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed and lead the project to be presented, and am experienced in matters of community health equity, food deserts, and participatory 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.