Stretching Food and Being Creative: Caregiver Responses to Child Food Insecurity

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine the strategies and behaviors caregivers use to manage the household food supply when their children experience food insecurity as measured by the US Department of Agriculture's Household Food Security Survey Module.

Design:

Cross-sectional survey with open-ended questions collected in person.

Setting:

Urban and nonurban areas, South Carolina, US.

Participants:

Caregivers who reported food insecurity among their children (n = 746).

Phenomenon of Interest:

Strategies and behaviors used to manage the household food supply.

Analysis:

Emergent and thematic qualitative coding of open-ended responses.

Results:

The top 3 strategies and behaviors to change meals were (1) changes in foods purchased or obtained for the household, (2) monetary and shopping strategies, and (3) adaptations in home preparation. The most frequently mentioned foods that were decreased were protein foods (eg, meat, eggs, beans), fruits, and vegetables. The most frequently mentioned foods that were increased were grains and starches (eg, noodles), protein foods (eg, beans, hot dogs), and mixed foods (eg, sandwiches).

Conclusions and Implications:

Caregivers use a wide variety of strategies and behaviors to manage the household food supply when their children are food insecure. Future work should examine how these strategies might affect dietary quality and well-being of food-insecure children.

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