Journal of Public Affairs

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  • Emerging, and old, dilemmas for food security in Latin America

    The present text offers a summary of some of the crucial food security problems in Latin American (LA) countries. This region, like many others in the globe, confronts such as food safety difficulties. The summary offers also an analysis of some technologically based solutions for LA food security issues. As a general call, the present review article calls for a collaborative and transdisciplinary approach to think deeper about how to solve food security problems, putting the focus on enabling technologies within a context of social, market, and global trends to achieve food and nutritional security. The review is positioned far from techno‐optimisms and, at the same time, away from purely economic‐based solutions. Conversely, this review embraces the whole complexity that brings economy‐nature‐technology triad. Embracing such complex relationships between technology, nature and the socio‐economy aspects of food security LA issues. Such complexity also triggers a need for a solution that considers a renewed approach to sustainability in the whole food value chain from production to consumption. Sustainability in the value chain opens up a much‐needed approach to LA food security that broadens, and refresh, our understanding of this fundamental socio‐economic and technical phenomena.

  • Increasing knowledge of food deserts in Brazil: The contributions of an interactive and digital mosaic produced in the context of an integrated education for sustainability program

    As efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition evolve within the context of United Nations' Global Compact and Sustainable Development Goals; such problems remain far from being solved due, in part, to their complex nature. Brazil exemplifies such multifaceted scenario as the country has left the “hunger map” in 2014 but now faces another issue: The quality of the food available to its population. Physical, social, economic, cultural, and political factors have impacted the Brazilian food environment, shaping new eating habits such as the replacement of traditional local food for processed foods. Within this context, educational institutions may play an important role in spreading knowledge about major social challenges such as this and their interdependent causes. This paper presents the case study of a project conducted by business and public administration students in a discipline called Integrated Education for Sustainability (FIS), offered to undergraduate students at one of Brazil's most important management schools. In 2017, the project worked on the topic of Food Deserts, challenging the students to develop a digital and interactive mosaic that uncovers the situation of the food deserts in São Paulo. Data were collected from participant observation, field trips, events, and interviews conducted in class with 18 professionals working on several areas related to the topic. The article provides insights into (a) the importance of education to tackle the sustainability challenges, (b) lessons learned from the 14th edition of FIS course, and (c) the several barriers to food access in the city of São Paulo.

  • “If you Build it with them, they will come”: What makes a supermarket intervention successful in a food desert?

    Using 71 planned supermarket interventions in food deserts, this study assesses the interplay between regional geography, management models, policy drivers, financing, and timing. We find that community engagement and cooperative management models are important factors to opening and sustaining a new store, contributing to subsequent improvements in the foodscape, built environment, and diet‐related health. Findings show that none of the nonprofit or community‐driven stores have closed whereas nearly half of the commercial‐driven and one third of government‐driven cases resulted in canceled plans or closed stores. Our research suggests community engagement is a critical component of effective policies for healthy food access. Future studies may wish to include measurements of community engagement with their case studies to better situate explanatory findings.

  • Fishing, food, and harbor community development in Massachusetts

    Fishing communities are highly dependent on fishing and maritime economies. Regulations and techniques attempt to control quotas, types of fish caught, and the gear utilized in the industry. Furthermore, societal preferences and markets dictate the value of the fish transacted. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship and recent changes between fishing and community development in two fishing communities in Massachusetts: Gloucester and New Bedford. Moreover, I also discuss the role that fish food plays in cities and their foodways. The research asks how these communities have adapted to changes in fishing stocks, techniques, socioeconomic trends and regulations during the last two decades. A resilience public affairs approach centered on seven governance dimensions of fisheries is utilized to analyze the case studies. It is argued that specializing in niche markets, developing adequate industry facilities, and nurturing the cultural aspects endemic to each fishing community has positively influenced the communities' capacity to withstand major societal transformations. The harbor plans for Gloucester and New Bedford provide some plausible directions toward future improvements in the fishing sector.

  • An interview with social entrepreneur Doug Rauch on his solution to food insecurity
  • From Markets to Tech: Governmental Initiatives, Solutions, and Responses to Food Insecurity

    Food security, or lack thereof, is a global issue, affecting millions of people worldwide. Although it has been determined that there is enough food on the planet to feed everyone, nearly one‐third suffer from some form of malnutrition. The purpose of this paper is to bring awareness to this global crisis. The introduction defines food security and food deserts, supported by global and U.S. statistics. Next, the paper discusses the federal and regional initiatives within the U.S. to eliminate food insecurity, including federal laws and individual state laws. The paper highlights the “Right to Farm” initiative promulgated by New York state, as well as the Farmers' Market of Troy, New York, as attempts to combat food insecurity. The paper then discusses another large metropolitan area in the U.S., Seattle, Washington, and its response to food insecurity: Seattle's “Farm‐To‐Table Initiative” and “Fresh Bucks” program. Next, the discussion turns to advancing technology and its ability to bridge gaps in food accessibility. For example, Sweden has implemented an unstaffed twenty‐four‐hour grocery store using technology to complete the transactions. Smiliar solutions are being tested in communities in China. Furthermore, Amazon GO, launched in 2016 in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most recent innovations, allowing shoppers to use an Amazon account to track their purchases. The paper concludes by calling on the more economically influential countries to prioritize food security in their respective nations.

  • Food insecurity negatively impacts academic performance

    Recent research has documented high rates of food insecurity among university students, particularly students in their first year. Food insecurity among university students has been linked to poorer self‐reported health and academic outcomes. However, few studies have linked reports of food insecurity to objective student outcomes. In this study, we examine how food insecurity is associated with first‐year university students' (n = 591) academic performance, adjusting for objective measures of high school academic performance and self‐reported indicators of socioeconomic background. Zero‐ and one‐inflated beta regression was used to examine if food insecurity predicted grade point average (GPA) in the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. Logistic regression was used to determine if food insecurity at the end of the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters was a predictor of retention to fall 2016. Food‐insecure students had a significantly lower GPA than food‐secure students. In fall 2015, 59% of food‐insecure students obtained at least a “B” grade (GPA = 3.00); our models suggest this percentage would increase to 72% if these same students were food secure. Food‐insecure students were less likely to be enrolled in fall 2016 than food‐secure students (OR = 0.72, 95% CI [0.41, 1.27]), though this difference was not statistically significant. These results indicate that food insecurity negatively impacts first‐year university students' academic performance, even after adjusting for high school academic performance and socioeconomic background. Students GPA, and potentially university retention rates, may increase if food insecurity on campus is minimized.

  • Issue Information

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  • A systems thinking approach to the integration of food insecurity policy

    Food insecurity represents a growing problem in the United States, with levels of household insecurity hovering around 12.5% of national population. Policy leaders and advocates have long struggled to define adequate solutions, mired in concerns about food access and affordability, as well as overlays of equity and social justice, in part because of the numerous many ways we have measured the problem and defined and evaluated solutions. Most food security programs are designed as temporary assistance and few policy leaders or advocates are well‐placed to address leverage points for durable policy change, both because they are focused on short term solutions and because they are unable to collaborate to identify leverage points within the food policy system that would enable long term solutions. This paper offers a systems thinking assessment of a recent food policy symposium, illuminating the problem and causes as perceived by those practitioners involved in addressing household food insecurity, highlighting the lack of coherence among current stakeholders and an inability to collaboratively address the problem of food insecurity. It concludes with suggestions for future research.

  • Food security and access to healthy foods in Indian country: Learning from the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

    Food access, food security, and nutrition‐related health disparities have long been recognized as particular challenges for Native Americans living on tribal land. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides nutrition assistance to tribal communities through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). In 2016, we completed a study of the FDPIR program for USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. This was the first national update since 1990. We found that FDPIR continued to serve people of all ages. However, since 1990, participation by children decreased whereas participation by elders increased. Consistent with the 1990 study, we found that FDPIR households are a very low‐income population. Households reported significantly higher rates of food insecurity than national averages—34% experienced low food security, and about 22% experienced very low food security. Changing demographics call for continued attention to the diverse nutritional needs of young and elderly program participants in tribal communities. Although barriers to food access persist in Indian country, FDPIR and locally sourced food initiatives help to meet needs. Nutrition and wellness education addresses health disparities and fosters healthy lifestyles. Partnerships operating at multiple levels support food production and distribution, improve access to healthy foods, and encourage healthy diets. From a policy and practice perspective, the study findings offer insights for tribal communities and rural areas that have limited access to healthy food options and illustrate how nutrition assistance programs can coexist with local initiatives to provide practical approaches to ensure healthy and adequate nutritional support.

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