Adolescent Health

How Adolescents Cope With Food Insecurity in Baltimore City

September 23, 2022

When asked about what could be done to address food insecurity, young people in Baltimore said it would help to have services combined and offered at places that are considered safe and where youth already gather – such as community rec centers offer job training, healthy meal service, and education about how to find and select healthy food options within the neighborhood.

Young People

Through conversations with young people, Associate Professor Kristin Mmari, Associate Scientist Susan Gross and Professor Tamar Mendelson set out in 2018 to explore adolescents’ experiences with and coping strategies around food insecurity in Baltimore City. The team wanted to know whether patterns of food insecurity differed by rates of youth disconnection and neighborhood characteristics. Finally, the researchers wanted to collect solutions voiced by young people themselves for addressing food insecurity.

The team conducted focus groups and surveys with adolescents across six different neighborhoods in Baltimore that had limited access to healthy food. They found “everyone in the focus groups was aware of adolescents who engaged in risky behaviors to get money for food. Among girls, prostituting was the most mentioned behavior, whereas for boys, it was selling drugs or stealing to get money for food. Adolescents also described tremendous stigma associated with food insecurity and agreed that food insecurity must be viewed within a broader set of economic challenges.”

Their findings were published in March 2019. The team also received additional funding from the Initiative to create a blueprint for how Baltimore can address adolescent food insecurity.  Read more about that project here.

Stay Connected to the Initiative

Receive all the latest news from the Initiative by following us on Twitter, signing up for the American Health Dispatch newsletter, subscribing to the American Health Podcast, and subscribing to our YouTube channel.

Contact Us