Food insecurity and access

Atlanta, GA
United States

Georgia State University Nutrition Department

Seeking to understand barriers to healthy food access for older adults.

Due to intersecting factors shaped by structural racism, including poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and disability, people of color are more likely to live with diet-related chronic conditions and more likely to die from that condition. Many older adults lack access to affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods to manage their conditions. To combat food insecurity and its related health impacts, Open Hand Atlanta provides home delivery and congregate meals to Fulton County senior centers in the Atlanta metro area. For Open Hand Atlanta to continue addressing food insecurity and health disparities, it must better understand where and how residents get their food outside of the program. Open Hand Atlanta will partner with researchers and students at Georgia State University on this project.

Using US Department of Agriculture food access data, focus group discussions, and surveys of people accessing senior centers, Open Hand Atlanta will be able to better understand barriers to senior food access and map them geospatially. Open Hand Atlanta will invite seniors at two senior centers to participate in the focus groups to discuss healthy eating and potential solutions to food access. It will also hold photo elicitation sessions to document recently experienced barriers to food access and racist structures captured in food environments. Open Hand Atlanta will share its analysis of the focus group findings with participants to solicit their interpretations.

Using data from surveys and geospatial studies, Open Hand Atlanta will develop additional nutrition education topics; processes for gathering feedback from clients on an ongoing basis; on-site healthy food access points for clients, beyond congregate meals; and other solutions to serve clients’ needs. They will also use evidence to promote policies that support equitable access to healthful foods to stakeholders such as the Georgia Food Security Advisory Council, Senior Hunger Coalition, Georgia Division of Aging, and Atlanta Regional Commission.