, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1182-1187
Date: 14 Jul 2013

Food Insecure Families: Description of Access and Barriers to Food from one Pediatric Primary Care Center

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Abstract

Despite evidence that food insecurity negatively impacts child health, health care providers play little role in addressing the issue. To inform potential primary care interventions, we sought to assess a range of challenges faced by food insecure (FI) families coming to an urban, pediatric primary care setting. A cross-sectional study was performed at a hospital-based, urban, academic pediatric primary care clinic that serves as a medical home for approximately 15,000 patients with 35,000 annual visits. Subjects included a convenience sample of caregivers of children presenting for either well child or ill care over a 4 months period in 2012. A self-administered survey assessed household food security status, shopping habits, transportation access, budgeting priorities, and perceptions about nutrition access in one’s community. Bivariate analyses between food security status and these characteristics were performed using Chi square statistics or Fisher’s exact test. The survey was completed by 199 caregivers. Approximately 33 % of families were FI; 93 % received food-related governmental assistance. FI families were more likely to obtain food from a corner/convenience store, utilize food banks, require transportation other than a household car, and prioritize paying bills before purchasing food. FI families perceived less access to healthy, affordable foods within their community. Thus, FI families may face unique barriers to accessing food. Knowledge of these barriers could allow clinicians to tailor in-clinic screening and create family-centered interventions.