Food insecurity among all age groups within the United States is an issue, especially since COVID-19, where an estimated 22-38% of US households are considered food insecure. Lack of access to nutritious foods at any age increases one’s risk for not only chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, but also impacts one’s mental health. As a scientific community, not only is it necessary to understand the complexities of food insecurity among certain age groups, families, races and ethnicities in order to develop effective strategies to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity, but it is also important to create instruments to better identify those who are food insecure and to evaluate policies surrounding this issue. Thus, in collaboration with Feeding America through Hunger + Health, the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior is proud to announce our 13-article collection on food insecurity.
The articles within this collection span food insecurity among children and adults of various races and ethnicities that focus on identifying the prevalence of food insecurity and subsequent interventions within schools, families and the communities. There are various methodologies – qualitative, quantitative and mixed that are used to identify the severity of this issue and also the impact these interventions have on food insecurity. To highlight a few articles, in regards to the prevalence of food insecurity among youth, Kamdar and colleagues’ (2019) study showed that through their secondary analysis, as food insecurity worsened among households, the diet quality of 18-month old improved, which could have been attributed to parents adopting a coping mechanism for their children. Among adolescents, Utter and colleagues (2019) demonstrated that a family meal intervention for food insecure households not only improved food security status throughout the course of the intervention, but also adolescents improved their vegetable intake and mental well-being. Other articles focused on developing an instrument to target a specific aspect of food insecurity. For example, Nikolaus and colleagues (2018) developed and validated an instrument for food pantries to assess the nutrition environment. If employees at food pantries used this instrument, it may enhance their strategies to encourage their clients from selecting and preparing nutritious foods. Finally, articles focused on policies that focused on food insecurity. As Pflugh Prescott and colleagues (2020) identified through their deductive analysis approach, states have common food recovery strategies, however; states differ in allowable share items, which may impact food security and food waste among individuals and schools. Overall, these articles will help continue the conversation between the scientific community, organizations, local, state and federal governments to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity within the United States.