Teens and Food Insecurity

The Urban Institute has worked in communities across the country to understand how food insecurity affects youth. From a statewide study in Vermont to pilot teen leadership programs in Portland, Oregon, and Chicago, Urban’s work in this area has continued to grow.

The latest efforts emerged from Urban’s Housing Opportunities and Services Together (HOST) demonstration, which explored using housing as a platform for providing intensive, whole-family services to stabilize vulnerable families. Urban’s HOST team first identified teen food insecurity as an issue in its Washington, DC, HOST community. Through a partnership with Feeding America, the team conducted focus groups with teens, first in the three HOST demonstration communities and later in seven diverse low-income communities across the US, to gain insight into how food insecurity affected their well-being. 

That exploratory research highlighted the special challenges teens faced, including the stigma of being food insecure, the weight of adult worries and responsibilities, and the pressure to engage in risky behavior. More research on teens and food insecurity followed, as did the development of a teen leadership program around food. 

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