Little in a Land of Plenty: Food Insecurity Among Latinos in the U.S.
Objective: To determine if there are common themes among the results of qualitative food insecurity studies of Latinos in the U.S. Methods: An electronic literature search was conducted via the PubMed database. The results from this search were filtered according to specific criteria and six qualitative studies were considered eligible for review. The results of each study were organized into themes, grouped into common categories and compared between studies. Results: The results of the reviewed studies may be organized into themes based upon (a) food availability, (b) types of food consumed, (c) food allocation in households with offspring, (d) emotional well-being, (e) sources of food and (f) economic strategies. These themes suggest that food availability occurs in a cyclic pattern based on income and employment. Fruits, vegetables and meats are typically too expensive for purchase and may lead to a reliance on staple foods. There is a strong desire among parents to protect household offspring from the effects of food insecurity. Food insecurity may produce significant, adverse psychological effects, such as stress and worry. During periods of insufficient income, food may be obtained from local churches, food pantries, social services or personal gardens. Food insecure Latinos may use numerous economic strategies to avoid food insecurity, such as traveling to stores with lower prices or using food stamps or loans to purchase food. Conclusions: There are common themes between the results of qualitative food insecurity studies among Latinos in the U.S. that describe the diverse manifestations of food insecurity.