MAKE NUTRITION YOUR INTENTION: INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES TO ACHIEVE FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HOUSEHOLDS
Problem Identification Macro, mezzo, and micro gaps in social service solutions demonstrate the need for innovative approaches to achieve food security. This comprehensive project endorses Maslow’s theory of human motivation, empowerment theory, and theory of planned behavior and empirical data supporting physiological drives for food as motivation for behavior changes. Further evidence supports that through empowerment, individuals will examine and acknowledge control over their environment, feel a sense of security through virtual resources, and develop conscientious approaches to foods they consume, influencing food-secure behaviors and healthier outcomes. This researcher conducted a scoping review of 119 articles examining the impact of nutrition on low-income Latinx and African American households with children in rural and urban areas, finding gaps in scholarship and practice including themes of cost, convenience, lifestyle, behavior, and direct access to food. Genesis HOPE (Helping Others Persevere by Empowerment) Inc., a nonprofit organization, was created to address gaps in scholarship and assess community needs in San Bernardino County, California. This project utilized the community engagement and social innovation (CESI) model as the basis for establishing rapport and incorporating a collaborative approach in the community. Social Innovation Genesis HOPE is a direct resource through organizational partnerships and provides access to nutritional services, supporting healthy food choices for African American and Latinx households. Genesis HOPE’s innovative strategy consisted of implementing a website and resource directory linking core elements supporting nutrition, community, and mental health with objective outputs encouraging wellness and healthy lifestyles. This innovation utilized qualitative data from self-piloted focus groups and survey creation for needs-based collaboration, forming the “Make Nutrition Your Intention” Virtual Resource Center hosted by Genesis HOPE. Genesis HOPE and the Make Nutrition Your Intention sites provide directory assistance to individuals and families along with access to nutritional tools and food sources, encouraging self-sufficiency, nutritional education, empowerment, and mental stability to improve lifestyles and capacity for making better food selections. Community Engagement Utilizing the CESI model, this researcher obtained data from self-piloted focus groups and survey questions to identify innovative solutions that meet the needs of Latinx and African American communities. Focus group findings resulted in themes regarding participants’ perceptions about food security and were associated with unemployment, emergencies, economic issues, and the cost of food. Survey findings included perceptions relating to poverty, food deserts, community programs, education, cost of food, COVID-19, access, stigma, culture, and disability. Additional engagement included partnerships and collaboration with other nonprofit organizations and school districts for information gathering to create the Make Nutrition Your Intention resource center and directory. Future Research and Evaluation Future research and sustainability efforts could include continual evaluation through questionnaires, community engagement, and replication among organizations through consultation and training, along with continuity through improvements, updates, and organization. Additionally, the resource center allows for scaling through ongoing provider membership campaigns, fundraising events, expanding organization and directory to nationwide locations, soliciting grants, and creating partnerships with additional providers.
A capstone project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work