Professionals’ Perceptions of Food Insecurity Among Their Low-Income Clients [2019]

This research examines the awareness of social service professionals of the food security of low-income families in a community-based savings program. Based on survey data of 65 community agencies in seven states that offer the Individual Development Account (IDA) program, the study investigates program providers’ awareness of the food security of IDA program participants. Second, this study presents IDA program provider activities to alleviate food insecurity and summarizes their opinions about how food insecurity could be prevented among their program families. Results show that providers were aware that families did not have enough of the kinds of food they want to eat. This perception was most strongly related to IDA programs with longer durations. Program families’ reports of their children’s food insecurity aligned well with the extent of food hardship reported by the program providers. Access to food and nutritional wellness services was considered most relevant for alleviating food insecurity. Financial security, access to community resources, and direct access to food and family support networks were considered important factors for protecting families from the threat of hunger. Research is needed to identify the role of community organizations that do not provide nutrition assistance for helping low-income families overcome food hardship.

Cäzilia Loibl, Congrong Ouyang & Anastasia Snyder
Journal of Social Service Research, 09 Jan 2019