249008 Access to culturally preferred foods: A meaningful part of the experience of food insecurity for low-income Latino immigrants

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tiffani D. Stevenson, MS , Department of Family Science, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Ashley L. Munger, BA , Department of Family Science, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Stephanie Grutzmacher, PhD , Department of Family Studies, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Risk factors, such as limited English proficiency, low levels of education, and limited eligibility for government safety net programs, place many low-income Latino immigrants in the U.S. at risk for food insecurity. Maintaining food security requires access to food that is not only safe and nutritious, but that also meets dietary and food preferences. Food preferences are influenced by social and cultural experiences, which, for Latino immigrants, include experiences from both their country of origin and the U.S. Given these factors, low-income Latino immigrants may have a qualitatively different experience of food insecurity than other groups, whose food preferences are based almost entirely on their experiences of food in the U.S. The present study explored the experience of food insecurity for Latino immigrants by examining the food preferences and the perceived challenges to accessing preferred foods. Forty in-depth interviews were conducted with low-income Latino immigrant adults in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Emergent themes revealed a discrepancy between preferred food and actual food consumed. Additionally, many participants compared the type and quality of foods they were accustomed to in their countries of origin and foods available in the U.S. and were in many ways dissatisfied. Participants varied in their reactions to their experience of food insecurity, yet these preliminary analyses suggest that limited access to culturally preferred foods is a meaningful element in the experience of food insecurity. The unique preferences and needs of this group should be considered in nutrition and food access policies aimed at improving food security.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the definition of food security in the context of Latino immigrant culture. Describe the experience and meaning of food insecurity for a sample of low-income Latino immigrants. Identify the discrepancy between the preferred food and the consumed food and the perceived impact of this discrepancy.

Keywords: Access Immigration, Food Security

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an author on a journal article that is being prepared for publication on this topic using these data.
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.