Assessing Food Insecurity: A Systematic Perspective

Abstract:; Food insecurity is recognized as one of the main public health problems in the United States. According to the US Department of Agriculture, about 10.2 percent of the U.S. households (13.5 million) were food insecure at some time during 2021. The World Food Summit in 1996 defined food security as having access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet the dietary needs at all times, in order to live a healthy and active life. When one or more of the factors mentioned in the previous statement is not present, there is a risk for food insecurity.Food insecurity is a complex problem caused by many factors such as socio-economic status of people, political and environmental developments in society, performance of the food economy and food supply chain as well as practices related to the health sector. To evaluate and propose policies that can curb food insecurity, the first step is to better understand this complex problem and its underlying dynamics. In this paper we used a system dynamics modeling approach to model the critical variables and causal relationships that have affected food availability, food access, and food affordability, and consequently food insecurity. Our causal loop diagram shows the reinforcing and balancing loops that have contributed to the observed dynamics (increase) of food insecurity in the population and discusses how the interplay among these causal loops can lead to worsening/improvement of the situation. Moreover, we identify the variables and causalities that are potential candidates for introducing interventions to alleviate this issue.

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