Structural and Social Barriers in Food Access Contribute to Higher Risks of Obesity and Food Insecurity Among Food Pantry Clients

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 11% of American households experience food insecurity, with that number currently reaching 44% as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. Further, those burdened by food insecurity are known to be at an increased risk of overweight and obesity due to a lack of affordable, healthy options. While past work on this topic has focused on federal food and nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP, the food banking system is another important resource for those experiencing hunger.

The study, published in PLOS One, reports on in-depth interviews conducted with 10 key stakeholders (e.g., food bank directors, food bank board members, advocates, elected officials) who are familiar with the food banking system in a professional capacity. The data reveals a strong consensus among these stakeholders that both structural and social characteristics of the food banking system play a role in health disparities.