Online Program

Food Security among Recently Arrived Refugees: Is It Associated with Pre-Resettlement Conditions and Current Social-Support Network

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Suzanne Doad, BA, Department of Nutrition, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Lanae Ball, PhD, Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
Jigna M. Dharod, PhD, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
The main objective of the study was to examine and compare food security (FS) status as related to pre-resettlement conditions and social support networks between two recently arrived refugee groups i.e., Iraqi & Burmese.  A case-study approach was used to conduct in-depth interviews and collect information on current and past FS status, family characteristics and social support networks of ten (5 Burmese & 5 Iraqi) newly arrived (< 4 months in the U.S.) refugee families.  The study was approved by the UNCG IRB.  Interviews were carried out in participants’ native languages with the help of trained interpreters. Results indicated that even though household income was very low (<$1,000/month), study families noted high levels of FS i.e., consistent access to good quality & quantity of food. In comparison, Burmese refugees reported high levels of FS compared to Iraqi families. In-depth discussions with participants indicated that the pre-resettlement food and living conditions were associated with the current FS status. On average, Iraqi families spent 5 years in pre-resettlement locations, whereas Burmese spent 19 years in refugee camps. The long-term living in camps on food rations could have led to higher FS tolerance among Burmese refugees. Between the two groups, Iraqi families indicated lower social support and limited contacts in the community. Harsher pre-resettlement conditions may lead refugees to perceive hardships related to food as less severe post-resettlement. Results indicate that each refugee group has its own unique needs and pre-resettlement conditions should be considered in designing tailor based programs.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
List factors affecting food security among refugee populations. Describe how the pre-resettlement period affects food security perceptions among refugees.

Keyword(s): Food Security, Refugees

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a professor specializing in community nutrition and have served as the principle investigator on multiple community-based studies. I have research experience exploring issues related to food insecurity and dietary acculturation with various refugee groups. For this particular study, I was the PI and carried out the full data collection. My other research interests include farmers’ markets and community gardens as health promotion tools targeting low-income populations and CBPR methodology.
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.