Online Program

How salient are race and socioeconomic status in the food shopping experiences of childcare workers of different backgrounds?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Amanda S. Birnbaum, PhD, MPH, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Stephanie Silvera, PhD, CPH, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Valisha J. Andrus, BA, Department of Health & Nutrition Sciences, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Megan K. Trusdell, BA, MA, Department of Health & Nutrition Sciences, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Background: There is growing interest in how local food environments contribute to social inequalities in diet. This study explored perceptions of local food environments and access to healthy foods in a racially and socioeconomically diverse population: childcare workers in New Jersey.

Method: Semi-structured interview guides were developed using a socioecological framework. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with childcare workers (n = 25) about food shopping practices, foods available at their regular stores, and affective and interpersonal experiences while shopping.

Results: All participants were female: some single/living alone, some married/living with partner, approximately half living with children. Center #1 participants were predominantly White and middle class; Center #2 participants were predominantly African- or Caribbean American/Black and lower SES, several utilizing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. At both centers, shopping costs, time, and convenience were major themes. Center #1 participants spoke about challenges finding diet-specific foods such as kosher, organic, and gluten-free. At Center #2, these foods were mentioned infrequently, mainly by married participants. Stronger themes were keeping children satisfied, coping with overweight/obesity, finding healthy ingredients, and food storage/safety. Themes of discomfort and discrimination at some stores were more common at Center #2, with race being mentioned mainly by single Black women with children. Black women with comparatively higher SES described greater comfort with “higher-end” stores than lower SES Black or White women.

Conclusions: Food access is important and challenging for families of diverse backgrounds, with complex and dynamic interrelationships between race, SES, household composition, and food priorities.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify three challenges for childcare workers to access healthy foods. Describe differences in food access among households with and without children. Discuss interrelationships between race and SES in childcare workers' food access.

Keyword(s): Nutrition, Built Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over 10 years' experience conducting research on food-related perceptions and behaviors, including sociodemographic factors such as gender, race, and socioeconomic status. I teach about these issues in undergraduate and graduate public health courses.
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.