Social Cohesion and Food Insecurity: Insights from the Geographic Research on Wellbeing (GROW) Study
- 611 Downloads
Objectives Food insecurity in the United States is a stubborn public health issue, affecting more than one in five households with children and disproportionately impacting racial and ethnic minority women and their children. Past research and policy has focused on household predictors of food insecurity, but neglected broader factors, such as perceived neighborhood social cohesion, that might protect those most vulnerable to food insecurity. Methods We use a racially and ethnically diverse data set from the Geographic Research on Wellbeing study (N = 2847) of women and their young children in California to investigate whether social cohesion influences food insecurity and whether it moderates the relationship between race/ethnicity and food insecurity. Results We find that lower levels of perceived residential neighborhood social cohesion associate with higher odds of food insecurity even after considering important household socioeconomic factors. In addition, our results suggest that social cohesion is most relevant for reducing the risk of food insecurity among racial and ethnic minority mothers. For example, the probability of food insecurity for immigrant Latina mothers is nearly 0.40 in neighborhoods where mothers perceive little to no cohesion and less than 0.10 in neighborhoods where mothers perceive high cohesion. Conclusions for Practice Higher levels of neighborhood perceived social cohesion are protective against food insecurity in households with children and especially so for racial and ethnic minority households who are at a heightened risk of food insecurity. Supporting programs that focus on building closer knit communities may be a key to reducing food insecurity overall and for reducing disparities in food insecurity by race and ethnicity.
KeywordsFood insecurity Social cohesion Race Ethnicity
We thank the Urban Health Program at Rice University for administrative support. This work was supported by a Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society (RSGT-11-010-01-CPPB) to C. Cubbin and a Foundation for Child Development Young Scholars Program Grant (YSP Rice 10-2014) to J. Denney.
- California Department of Public Health. (2013). California Maternal and Infant Health Assessment (MIHA) Technical Documentation. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/data/surveys/MIHA/Documents/MIHATechnicalDocument.pdf.
- Dean, W. R., Sharkey, J. R., & Johnson, C. M. (2011). Food insecurity is associated with social capital, perceived personal disparity, and partnership status among older and senior adults in a largely rural area of central Texas. Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, 30(2), 169–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Jones, S. J., Jahns, L., Laraia, B. A., et al. (2003). Lower risk of overweight in school-aged food insecure girls who participate in food assistance: Results from the panel study of income dynamics child development supplement. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 157(8), 780–784.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Noguera, P. A. (2001). Transforming urban schools through investments in the social capital of parents. In S. Saegert, J. P. Thompson, & M. R. Warren (Eds.), Social capital and poor communities (pp. 189–212). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
- Nord, M., Coleman-Jensen, A., Andrews, M., et al. (2010). Household food security in the United States, 2009. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture.Google Scholar
- Wight, V. R., Thampi, K., & Briggs, J. (2010). Who are America’s poor children? Examining food insecurity among children in the United States. Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health: National Center for Children in Poverty.Google Scholar