Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Food Insecurity and Diet-Related Disease: Self-Reports on Health from Clients at Charitable Feeding Programs

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 9:10 AM
Orchid B (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Theresa DelVecchio Dys, Feeding America
Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, provides food to more than 46 million low-income people in the U.S. through a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 charitable food assistance programs. The results discussed in this paper are based on an analysis of data collected from clients who took part in Feeding America’s recently released study, Hunger in America 2014, which is part of a series of quadrennial studies that provides comprehensive demographic profiles of people seeking food assistance through charitable feeding programs.

Between April and August 2013, more than 60,000 clients at 12,500 feeding programs across the country participated in this study by completing a survey that included questions about clients’ individual and household demographics, health status, food insecurity and coping strategies, and participation in government and charitable food assistance programs. The survey was administered to clients using a touchscreen tablet device and Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interview (ACASI) technology.

The results of this study indicate that there is a high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension in the population served by its network and that 84 percent of client households are food insecure. Using this dataset, we explore the intersection of food insecurity, the health status of client households, the reported incidence of diabetes and hypertension, and the use of coping strategies clients employ in an effort to feed themselves and their families. Data on other material hardship measures are also analyzed, including reported tradeoffs between food purchases and medicine/medical care and other basic needs (e.g., utility costs, transportation). These tradeoffs may be exacerbated in households with the dual burden of food insecurity and chronic disease. Further research on these topics is critical given that individuals struggling with food insecurity are at higher risk of developing diet-sensitive chronic diseases.