Voices Through Cameras: Using Photovoice to Explore Food Justice Issues With Minority Youth in East Harlem, New York

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Abstract

Engaging and empowering youth to promote health could be important in promoting sustainable positive behaviors. Photovoice is a community-based participatory research tool giving priority populations opportunities for active community engagement and advocacy through photography. Our project objective was to better understand youth perceptions related to food justice within their own community and identify solutions to promote positive change, using photovoice. Twelve minority youth from a low-income New York City neighborhood participated. Six photovoice sessions were conducted within a 24-week after-school food justice program, which included three photo assignments aimed at answering, “What influences me to eat healthy and unhealthy in my community and home environment?” Photos guided interviews and discussions. Inductive and deductive processes were used to identify codes; similar codes were grouped into themes. Five major themes emerged from the data: (1) attitudes toward food industry and food safety, (2) environmental influences of food choices, (3) social influences of food choices, (4) diet impact on health and well-being, and (5) solutions to improve the food environment. Participants shared their photos with community members at a celebration/photo exhibit. Photovoice could be a useful tool for youth to reflect on their food environment and engage in promoting positive change within their community.

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