Head Start's Role in Addressing Food and Nutrition Insecurity: Focus Group Findings

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2023 Aug;55(8):612-620. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2023.04.004. Epub 2023 Jun 17.


Objective: To elicit Head Start (HS) families' and employees' perspectives on family experiences with food and nutrition insecurity (FNI) and identify how HS addresses them.

Methods: Four moderated virtual focus groups with 27 HS employee and family participants occurred from August 2021 to January 2022. Qualitative analysis used an iterative inductive/deductive approach.

Results: Findings were summarized in a conceptual framework and suggested that HS's current 2-generational approach is useful for families when addressing multilevel factors affecting FNI. The role of the family advocate is essential. In addition to increasing access to nutritious foods, emphasis should also be placed on skills and education to decrease generational unhealthy behaviors.

Conclusions and implications: Head Start intervenes in generational cycles of FNI by using the family advocate to add to skills building for 2-generational health. Other programs targeting underserved children can use a similar structure for the greatest impact on FNI.

Keywords: Head Start; children; focus groups; food insecurity; nutrition insecurity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Supply
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status*