The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

Emerging Research Studies

The Center is constantly learning from the experts we work with about what it will take to end hunger. By listening and following their lead, we are expanding our work in two key areas: microfinance and exposure to violence and stress. Check back to this section for updates on these projects and other new ideas.

Food Insecurity Screening and Resource Referral in Pediatric Clinics

The American Academy of Pediatrics, recognizing the negative effects of food insecurity on the health and well-being of young children, recommends that all pediatricians screen families of young children for food insecurity and refer food insecure families to public benefits and community resources.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) screened families of children under age 5 for food insecurity at three CHOP primary care facilities.  Families screening positive were offered referral to Benefits Data Trust (BDT) for public benefits eligibility screening and connection to community resources and financial education and coaching through Clarifi. We conducted focus groups with caregivers who participated in the screening, and key informant interviews with CHOP staff members involved in the screening and referral process at each clinic. From these interviews and focus groups, we identified successes, challenges, impacts, and recommendations from the perspectives of both caregivers and CHOP staff members.

A manuscript describing the results of the study is currently under review. 

The Effects of Housing Discrimination on Child Health

Housing conditions have a strong association with the health and wellbeing of families. For instance, substandard housing is related to increased exposure to lead and to allergens that exacerbate asthma, and housing insecurity is associated with food insecurity and underweight among young children. The concentration of poor housing and high housing costs are also related to inadequate public services such as adequately funded, high quality education, effective and safe police protection, and safe places to play, exercise, and shop for food. Concentrated poor housing quality and lack of affordable housing is not only linked to racism and ethnic discrimination, but we suggest that they are also related to serious and lasting population health outcomes and racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes for children living in neighborhoods that have experienced persistent disinvestment.

In the past year, we have linked publicly available spatial data documenting housing discrimination and neighborhood housing context with individual-level and household-level data on factors that affect child health, as well as child health outcomes from the ongoing Children’s HealthWatch study. Spatial data included the Homeowner’s Loan Corporation maps, which document historical housing discrimination, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, which assess contemporary housing discrimination, along with US Census data and other sources of information about the housing context of Philadelphia neighborhoods.  We are in the process of analyzing the relationship between historical and contemporary housing discrimination and child health outcomes including asthma, hospitalizations, developmental risk, and overall physical health.


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