Association of Household and Community Characteristics with Adult and Child Food Insecurity among Mexican-Origin Households in Colonias along the Texas-Mexico Border
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BACKGROUND: Food insecurity is a critical problem in the United States and throughout the world. There is little published data that provides insights regarding the extent and severity of food insecurity among the hard-to-reach Mexican-origin families who reside in the growing colonias along the Texas border with Mexico. Considering that culture, economics, and elements of the environment may increase the risk for food insecurity and adverse health outcomes, the purpose of this study was to examine the relation between household and community characteristics and food insecurity. METHODS: The study used data from the 2009 Colonia Household and Community Food Resource Assessment (C-HCFRA). The data included 610 face-to-face interviews conducted in Spanish by promotoras (indigenous community health workers) in forty-four randomly-identified colonias near the towns of Progreso and La Feria in Hidalgo and Cameron counties along the Texas border with Mexico. C-HCFRA included demographic characteristics, health characteristics, food access and mobility, food cost, federal and community food and nutrition assistance programs, perceived quality of the food environment, food security, eating behaviors, and alternative food sources. RESULTS: 78% of participants experienced food insecurity at the level of household, adult, or child. The most severe - child food insecurity was reported by 49% of all households and 61.8% of households with children. Increasing levels of food insecurity was associated with being born in Mexico, increasing household composition, decreasing household income, and employment. Participation in federal food assistance programs was associated with reduced severity of food insecurity. Greater distance to their food store and perceived quality of the community food environment increased the odds for food insecurity. CONCLUSIONS: The Mexican-origin population is rapidly expanding; record numbers of individuals and families are experiencing food insecurity; and for those living in rural or underserved areas such as the colonias, the worst forms of food insecurity are an ongoing reality. The rates of households with adult and child food insecurity in this border area are alarming and among the highest reported. Clearly, systematic and sustained action on federal, state, and community levels is needed to reduce household, adult, and child food insecurity that integrates cultural tailoring of interventions and programs to address food and management skills, multi-sector partnerships and networks, expansion of food and nutrition assistance programs, and enhanced research efforts.
author list (cited authors)
Sharkey, J. R., Dean, W. R., & Johnson, C. M.