Household food security among migrant and seasonal latino farmworkers in North Carolina

Public Health Rep. 2004 Nov-Dec;119(6):568-76. doi: 10.1016/j.phr.2004.09.006.


Objective: Food insecurity is defined as lack of access at all times, due to economic barriers, to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle. The objective of this study was threefold: to characterize levels of food security, food insecurity, and hunger among migrant and seasonal Latino farmworkers; to assess predictors of food insecurity for this group; and to describe the strategies farmworkers use to cope with food insecurity.

Methods: Adults from 102 farmworker households in North Carolina responded to a survey that used a Spanish-language adaptation of the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module and questions about sociodemographic characteristics and food behaviors. Twenty-five farmworkers participated in in-depth interviews in which they described their households' food security situation and coping strategies.

Results: Forty-eight of the 102 sample households (47.1%) were classified as food insecure, including 10 (9.8%) with moderate hunger and five (4.9%) with severe hunger. Households with children had a significantly higher prevalence of food insecurity than those without children (56.4% vs. 36.2%). Households with children accessed food programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that were unavailable to those without children, while those without children were more likely to access food pantries and to consume wild game or fish. Coping strategies included borrowing money, reducing food variety, and adults consuming less food to protect children from hunger. Food insecurity was more than four times as prevalent among farmworker households as among the general U.S. population.

Conclusion: Policy changes to increase economic resources and access to federal programs are needed to decrease this food insecurity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food Supply*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transients and Migrants*