Online Program

Food insecurity and barriers to food access among Latino migrant and seasonal farmworker families with young children

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Grisel Trejo, MPH, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Cynthia Suerken, MS, Department of Biostatistical Science, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Joseph G. Grzywacz, PhD, Department of Human Development & Family Science, Oklahoma State University, Tulsa, OK
Thomas A. Arcury, PhD, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Sara A. Quandt, PhD, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Although most fresh produce in the US is harvested by Latino migrant and seasonal farmworkers, this low income, largely immigrant population has limited access to food. Low food security has been documented previously for farmworker families, but specific factors beyond income responsible for this are unknown. This study uses mixed methods to identify factors associated with variation in food security within this at-risk population. 248 farmworker families in North Carolina with a 2-3 year old child were recruited for a prospective two-year survey of child health. 27% were migrant workers; 73% were seasonal workers who currently reside in NC year round. Food security was measured using the USDA 18-item module. In-depth semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 32 mothers explored constraints on family and child feeding. Less than one-half of families reported high (39%) or marginal (9%) household food security in the previous year; the remainder reported low (35%) or very low (17%) food security. Low or very low food security was associated with migrant (rather than seasonal) farm work, low maternal education, lack of documentation among family adults. Qualitative data revealed constraints on food access reflecting rural residence (food deserts, transportation problems), difficulties accessing food benefits due to migration, and limited ability to cook or store food in migrant camps. These data show that food insecurity continues to be a problem among those who harvest much of America's food. Insights gained from interviewing mothers suggest environmental and policy factors underlying the problem of food insecurity.

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 research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the level of food security among migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the eastern US. Compare factors underlying food security for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Suggest possible environmental or policy changes that could help improve food security in this population.

Keyword(s): Food Security, Latino Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am PI of the study being reported here. I have a PhD in anthropology and nutrition, and have published previously on food security and diet among farmworkers. I have over 290 refereed journal publications, many of them on immigrant health.
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.