Methods:Participants are youth, primarily youth of color, who have taken part in at least one FEEST activity during the last academic year. This study uses Youth-based, Participatory Research (YPAR) methods and strategies as well as digital storytelling and survey methods. Both surveys and digital stories were collected during workshops and later through connecting the youth to technology, due to the challenges of conducting research during Covid-19. Measures used include the Child and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM-R), the Youth Social Responsibility Scale (YSRS), the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS). Qualitative data was analyzed using a constant comparative process consistent with grounded theory methodology. Models were tested with multivariate linear and non-linear regression and path analysis.
Results: Main domains that emerged through story telling were: access to healthy foods; resilience; cultural identity; youth empowerment; and relevance of FEEST services to promoting health and wellbeing. The research process itself proved to have impacts on youth, leading to self-reports of greater engagement with the issue of food insecurity in their families and communities.
Conclusions and Implications: Our results show that food insecurity relates to multiple domains in the life of youth of color in south Seattle, including cultural identity and youth empowerment. The results of our study suggest that the work of FEEST is seen by youth as essential in addressing food insecurity, not just because of food provided, but because of the impact it has on other domains, highlighting the importance of incorporating youth in the research that impacts them and their communities. YPAR itself helps to address food inequity by strengthening youth agency, while empowering youth to push for system-level change.