Combating Child Summer Food Insecurity: Examination of a Community-Based Mobile Meal Program

Country: United States
State / Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
Population: Low-income children/families
Community Engagement (IAP2 Spectrum): Collaborate
Equity: People Place Process Power

Study Description:
This study looked at a program that provides meals through mobile services in a community where there are big differences in people’s financial situations. The researchers used both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand how well the program worked and how people in the community experienced it. In this community, a mobile meal program was created specifically for children. The district’s food service and school administrators collaborated with the local food bank to develop this program. It aims to provide lunchtime meals to children who face limited access to free and reduced-price meals during the summer when school is not in session. To make sure the meals reach those who need them most, the district identified specific areas in the community, known as “hot spots,” where low-income families tend to spend time during the summer. Through observations and discussions with community members, three locations were chosen as meal sites to serve these children with nutritious meals during the summer months. Most of the participants (83%) did not face any obstacles in participating in the program. They enjoyed the diversity of people coming together to share a meal, and the open space where meals were served created an inclusive environment. Overall, the study’s findings highlight the significance of using innovative community-based approaches to reach and serve children who are typically harder to reach, especially during the summer when school is out.

Bruce, J. S., De La Cruz, M. M., Lundberg, K., Vesom, N., Aguayo, J., & Merrell, S. B. (2019). Combating child summer food insecurity: examination of a community-based mobile meal program. Journal of Community Health, 44, 1009-1018.