Food Insecurity Among Cambodian Refugee Women Two Decades Post Resettlement
Resettled refugees have high rates of chronic disease, which may be partially due to persistent food insecurity. This study describes food experiences on arrival in the U.S. and current food security status and examines characteristics related to food insecurity in a well-established refugee community. Focus groups and a survey assessed food security status and personal characteristics of Cambodian women in Lowell, MA, USA. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine relationships with food insecurity. Current rates of food insecurity are high. In multivariate models, food insecurity was positively associated with being depressed and being widowed, and negatively associated with higher income and acculturation. Early arrivers (1980s) had difficulty in the U.S. food system on arrival, while later arrivers (1990s–2000s) did not. Refugee agencies should consider strategically devoting resources to ensure successful early transition to the U.S. food environment and long-term food security of refugees.
KeywordsRefugees Food insecurity Acculturation Depression
The authors thank Botum Sokhieng, Jeanine Chhoeum, Saman Hing, Chanthyda Hout, Julie Hak, and Sam An Um, who administered the survey; Boroueth Chen and Timothy Mouth who provided written translations and backtranslations; Ronnie Mouth, Bophamony Vong, and Sengly Kong who translated focus group discussions; Robin Toof and Sidney Liang for input into the survey design and administration; and most of all, the study participants who generously shared their time and experiences. This research was funded by Cambodian Community Health 2010 (CDC Agreement Number U50/CCU122151), the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts Catalyst Fund, the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, Project Bread, and the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc.
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