Food insecurity in elderly of south central appalachia: A community organization approach
According to the USDA, food insecurity is defined as reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. Food insecurity among the elderly is prevalent in South Central Appalachia, which comprises the Appalachian regions of Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina, with 8.4% of elderly households being food insecure. There are many reasons for food insecurity among elderly in rural Appalachia including physical disability, socioeconomic status, and social isolation, which is often caused by lack of transportation. The Community Organizing Theory (COT) is ideal for the Appalachian region due to the strong sense of community within the population. COT is a process through which community groups identify common problems, mobilize resources, and develop and implement strategies to reach collective goals. In addition, food insecurity among elderly lends itself to a community organizing approach because tackling the issue requires community resources and volunteers. Community input should be obtained and utilized to identify community resources and best practices to reach this vulnerable population. Once identified, partners should be recognized to collaborate on mobilizing these resources to achieve the common goal of alleviating the burden of food insecurity among the elderly in the community. Partners should develop and implement strategies that utilize the identified resources to create a self-sustaining community partnership, such as a farmer-supported community meal delivery program. This program would likely have additional support from community organizations, community gardens, local food banks, and non-profit organizations. COT can be used to emphasize the cyclical benefits to the community.
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health
Discuss possible applications of Community Organization theory to address community health problems, such as food insecurity among the elderly in south central Appalachia.
Keyword(s): Community Collaboration, Food Security
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Master of Public Health candidate studying Health Services Management and Policy. I have taken several courses on community and behavioral health relating directly to this topic of food insecurity in south-central Appalachia, where my academic institution is located.
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.