Food insecurity is defined as the state of being without access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. This term replaced the word “hunger” several years ago in an attempt to describe the persistent issue that 35 million Americans face every day of not being able to put food on the table. Hunger and food insecurity are related, and both are large and complex problems. Government and other programs have taken steps to alleviate food insecurity; however, the problem endures. This course will explore how the terms food insecurity and hunger are used, how to define and measure hunger and food insecurity, and how larger issues such as food environment, poverty and transportation are tied to food insecurity. Students will learn to think critically about the presence of hunger and food insecurity in a wealthy nation such as the U.S., as well as learn how individuals and communities can influence food policy decisions. Topics introduced will include food systems, community nutrition, food deserts, poverty, emergency food programs, and government nutrition programs. An emphasis on Social Determinants of Health and a discussion of how health and food insecurity affect each other will be a topic of discussion. Students will analyze community food maps, and review various interventions designed to improve food security. Students will learn about the various federal and state safety net programs that are meant to reduce food insecurity, and how current policies and political environments affect them. Looking at food insecurity in a holistic sense will allow students to develop critical thinking skills and introduce them to a wide range of topics in the food security field.
Jennifer Shukaitis (Family and Community Health Sciences)
Sara Elnakib (Family and Community Health Sciences)