Designing a Pilot Teen Food Program
Food insecurity can strain teens’ growth and future success, leading some to make risky decisions when facing a lack of options. This report describes an approximately three-year collaboration by a group of teens, service providers, and researchers to design and pilot a program to improve young people’s access to food in the New Columbia community in Portland, Oregon. We discuss the origins and launch of the Portland teen food work and provide guidance to inform similar efforts in other communities. We hope that improving how service providers engage with one another and with teens can help minimize the impacts of food insecurity on young people. Equipping teens with more knowledge about their food environment could empower them to take a leadership role in advocating for better solutions. The project is part of a larger body of work started in 2013 through the Urban Institute’s Housing Opportunity and Services Together (HOST) demonstration project in the three public housing communities.