Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Food Insecurity and Childhood Hunger Among Food Pantry Recipients in the Bronx (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

354P (see Poster Gallery) Food Insecurity and Childhood Hunger Among Food Pantry Recipients in the Bronx

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Sameena Azhar, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Greg Acevedo, PhD, Associate Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Abigail Ross, PhD, MPH, MSW, Assistant Professor, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, New York, NY
Eve Keller, PhD, Professor, Fordham University, Bronx, NY
John Weed, MSW, Assistant Executive Director, BronxWorks, Bronx, NY
Food insecurity is a major public health problem linked to adverse health and mental health outcomes across the lifespan. Defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as the lack of availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability of food, food insecurity can be interpreted to not only refer to uncertain or inconsistent access to food, but also to the psychosocial stress experienced by individuals and families who worry about having insufficient resources to provide nutritionally balanced meals to their households. In New York City, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the boroughs with the greatest pre-pandemic rates of food insecurity. The estimated number of food insecure New Yorkers in 2021 was approximately 1.4 million people. Current estimates indicate that 16.4% of Bronx residents are now food insecure.

In light of these heightened food insecurity issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal of this study was to determine predictors for food insecurity and childhood hunger among a sample of food pantry recipients in the north Bronx.

The study applies a community-based participatory research approach to identify emerging community needs of Bronx residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a series of meetings with community leaders and service providers in the north Bronx, we identified food insecurity as a community-driven research priority area of inquiry. To determine predictors of food insecurity and childhood hunger in the north Bronx, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of 218 food pantry recipients.

The mean food insecurity score, as measured by the United States Household Food Security Survey Module, was 3.43 (SD=1.08), indicating low food insecurity. In adjusted multiple linear regression models, statistically significant risk factors for food insecurity included: having one or more children and not having insurance. The mean scores for childhood hunger, as measured through the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project index, was 2.79 (SD=1.71), indicating risk of hunger. Statistically significant protectors against childhood hunger were: Spanish being spoken at home, having a graduate degree, and having health insurance. Experiencing depression symptoms was positively associated with both food insecurity and childhood hunger.

Implications for Social Work Policy and Practice
Our findings indicate that food pantry use was not significantly associated with either food insecurity or childhood hunger. These results demonstrate that even with the receipt of regular food pantry services, many families in the Bronx remain food insecure and have children in threat of hunger. These findings stress the need for increased food assistance for marginalized communities, particularly through policies that will impact residents who are ineligible for benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).