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Iowa State University Extension

Do you have enough food? Researchers ask Latino immigrants

Kimberly Greder

Having enough food to eat is a problem facing 421,000 Iowans, not just people in the rest of the world, says Kimberly Greder, ISU Extension family life state specialist. These Iowans are food insecure — meaning they have difficulty getting nutritious, safe food in socially acceptable ways. One group, in particular, that is feeling the pinch is recent Latino immigrants. Greder is in the third year of a research project examining issues related to food insecurity and housing of 31 recent Latino immigrants in Buena Vista and Tama counties.

Respondents were predominantly Mexican mothers who had immigrated to the United States within the last 15 years, had children age 12 or younger, had incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, spoke primarily Spanish and had not completed the equivalent of high school.

“Through in-depth interviewing of these mothers over time, and learning about the communities they live in and came from, we can develop a better understanding of how well Latino immigrant families are faring in Iowa, as well as the challenges they continue to face,” Greder said. “Of the families involved in this study, nearly half were food insecure.”

Also on the research team were ISU Extension education directors Rhonda Christensen and Franklin Albertsen; Steve Garasky, Chris Cook and Liz Ortiz from ISU Human Development and Family Studies; and two local Latino women who were hired and trained to conduct the interviews. For more information about this study and other food insecurity and hunger research, visit the Iowa Food Security, Insecurity and Hunger Web site.

This article appeared in October 2007 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter