Online Program

Assessment of food intake and disease risk among people experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Diane C. Martins, PhD, RN, College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Kathleen Gorman, Ph.D, Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Robin Miller, PhD, RN, CNE, Director, Certificate Entry in Nursing (CEIN/BS) Program, University of Connecticut, Groton, CT
Leah Murphy, BS, BA, RN, Frontier School of Nursing, Newport, RI
This study examined the relationship between food intake and disease risk among people experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island. This correlational study utilized a convenience sample from the state's largest service agency for this population. Participants were homeless adults living on the streets, in shelters, or using Health Care for the Homeless services. Individuals were interviewed regarding their demographics and use of services such as emergency food, shelters, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Food security was measured by a subset of the USDA Food Security Core Module. Anthropometric measures included height, weight, blood pressure, body mass index and waist circumference. A twenty-four hour dietary recall was collected to determine quality of food intake for a subset of participants. Of 319 participants, 68% of the sample was overweight or obese and were at increased risk for disease. Average dietary recall data indicated an insufficient intake of vegetables, fruit, and dairy and an excessive intake of fats. Over 94% of the participants were food insecure, with 64% of the population experiencing hunger. Fifty five percent of the participants were currently receiving SNAP benefits. During the previous month, more than half had eaten a daily meal in a soup kitchen but fewer than 30% reported using a food pantry. In a sample of people experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island, the majority was overweight or obese with increased disease risk and was food insecure with hunger. The average dietary intake of this sample did not meet dietary recommendations.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between food intake and disease risk among people experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island.

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Hunger

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked with people experiencing homelessnesss for 30 years. I authored an article on Health Care Experiences of People Experiencing Homelessness (Martins, 2008)based on my dissertation research. For the past 6 years, I have been involved in research on hunger and food insufficiency with people experiencing homelessness. Recently, I have been involved with changing state SNAP policy for people who are homeless, disabled and/or elderly.
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.