142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Systematic identification of and response to child food security by schools

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 : 1:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Eliza M. Fishbein, B.A. , Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Maryah Fram, Ph.D. , College of Social Work; Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Edward A. Frongillo, PhD , Arnold Schoold of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
INTRODUCTION: More than 20% of US children live in a food-insecure household.

Identifying and responding appropriately to their needs remains a major challenge.

Schools are existing systems that could be used to identify children experiencing

food insecurity; schools already confront and respond to a variety of children’s needs,

including food, but do not do so systematically. This research examined whether and

how schools could systematically identify food-insecure children and provide appropriate

responses. METHODS: In three elementary and middle schools, all students (n=763)

were assessed regarding experiences related to food insecurity. Follow-up in-depth

interviews with children who affirmed food insecurity guided further assessment and

responses by the schools through a weekly take-home backpack of food and by linking

the family with additional resources via social-work students. School staff, child, and

family experiences of the assessment, backpack, and additional support were documented

throughout subsequent interviews. RESULTS: Schools systematically identified children

using a short questionnaire, individual interviews, and discussion groups; each school

adapted the assessment to their situation. School staff and families found the extra

support of the social-work students to be helpful in solving issues surrounding food.

School staff found the backpacks to be disruptive to their daily responsibilities. The

backpacks most benefited children living in extreme situations. Children experienced

stigma related to the backpacks. DISCUSSION: School systems provide a scalable way

to identify children who are food-insecure. More research is needed regarding how to

scale up programs in schools identifying child food insecurity and addressing it and its


Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the importance of utilizing the school systems as an existing structure to to identify children who are experiencing food insecurity. List a variety of techniques schools can use to identify and respond to children who are experiencing food insecurity.

Keyword(s): Food Security, School-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a co-investigator of the study and have been involved in all aspects of the study. I have expertise on the topic of child food insecurity.
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.