Examining Hunger and Food Insecurity Among Older Adults of Mexican Heritage in Texas-Mexico Border Colonias: A Holistic Approach
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This dissertation presents three studies designed to elucidate the phenomenon of hunger and food insecurity among older adults of Mexican heritage in Texas-Mexico border colonias. First, a comprehensive background of the problem is provided to include theoretical frameworks and delineations of the significance of this research. Second, a review of extant literature will be presented to include (a) definitions of hunger and food insecurity, (b) discussions on measurement of hunger and food insecurity, (c) nutritional and non-nutritional factors affecting food security, (d) nutrition curricula and food insecurity, and (e) limitations of current research and practice. Senior focus groups illuminated the importance of centering interventions on the premises of coping strategies, resource management, and social capital. Many of the senior participants lacked adequate household resources, resource management skills, and coping strategies, and were disconnected from social networks that are evident in reducing barriers to food insecurity. These results spurred the development and implementation of our senior hunger curriculum, No Más Hambre [No More Hunger], which introduced novel methods of providing nutrition education and skill building in effort to reduce the risk of hunger and food insecurity through resource maximization. By way of extensive formative and process evaluations, the senior hunger curriculum emerged as a complex framework of promotora-led lessons and discussions, learner-based tactile activities, and culturally-sensitive resources and lesson materials—all delivered within the home of each participant. To test the feasibility and acceptability of the No Más Hambre curriculum, we engaged the promotoras and participants in process discussions and in-depth interviews. This feasibility and acceptability study is the first of its kind in that we examined perspectives and experiences of MH seniors who endure acute hunger and food insecurity through the use of a home-based nutrition education curriculum. Though we did not assess empirical outcomes, we determined through interpretive analysis that secondary outcomes (i.e., self-reported impacts), such as social bonding, learned knowledge and skills, and improved health beliefs and behaviors, were valued and the lessons were enjoyable and indispensable to all participants. This study represents the first of its kind to address hunger and food insecurity among seniors of Mexican heritage within a setting that has been under-utilized and under-studied. With an innovative, holistic, home-based approach, we addressed the burden of hunger and food insecurity within this population and created a sustainable solution to a global human rights issue.
Bustillos, Brenda D (2016). Examining Hunger and Food Insecurity Among Older Adults of Mexican Heritage in Texas-Mexico Border Colonias: A Holistic Approach. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from