Understanding and Addressing the Roots of Child Food Insecurity: A Qualitative Longitudinal Analysis

Awarded Scholars:
Sarah Bowen , North Carolina State University
Annie Hardison-Moody , North Carolina State University
Sinikka Elliot, University of British Columbia
Project Date:
Jul 2019
Award Amount:
$175,000
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

About one out of eight households are food insecure each year, with a higher prevalence among households with children. Food insecurity is associated with numerous negative outcomes, including poor nutrition, poor child development, and depression and anxiety. A large literature has examined factors that are associated with food insecurity, but much remains unknown about its causes and consequences. Most experiences of food insecurity are intermittent, with households cycling in and out as they experience events such as job loss, unexpected expenses, or loss of food stamp (SNAP) benefits. However, few studies have examined families as they move in and out of food insecurity, making it difficult to identify the pathways that enable some families to avoid food insecurity. Sociologist Sarah Bowen and her colleagues have completed data collection from a five-year mixed-methods study of the processes that drive child food insecurity. They have two main aims. First, having interviewed both parents and children, they can examine similarities and differences in parent and child perceptions and experiences of food insecurity. Second, they will investigate how food insecurity and children’s health and wellbeing change over time in response to changes in factors like family stress, social support, and neighborhood environments. From these analyses, they expect to generate hypotheses for future studies.

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