Analyzing the Role of Community and Individual Factors in Food Insecurity: Identifying Diverse Barriers Across Clustered Community Members
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This paper uses the results from a community food security assessment survey of 684 residents and three focus groups in Pueblo County, Colorado to examine the question: what community and individual factors contribute to or alleviate food insecurity, and are these factors consistent throughout a sub-county population. Importantly, we use a technique called cluster analysis to endogenously determine the key factors pertinent to food access and fruit and vegetable consumption. Our results show significant heterogeneity among sub-population clusters in terms of the community and individual factors that would make it easier to get access to fruits and vegetables. We find two distinct clusters of food insecure populations: the first was significantly less likely to identify increased access to fruits and vegetables proximate to where they live or work as a way to improve their household’s healthy food consumption despite being significantly less likely to utilize a personal vehicle to get to the store; the second group did not report significant challenges with access, rather with affordability. We conclude that though interventions focused on improving the local food retail environment may be important for some subsamples of the food insecure population, it is unclear that proximity to a store with healthy food will support enhanced food security for all. We recommend that future research recognizes that determinants of food insecurity may vary within county or zip code level regions, and that multiple interventions that target sub-population clusters may elicit better improvements in access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
KeywordsFood security Food insecurity Community interventions Cluster analysis Fruit and vegetable consumption
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