National-hunger-study-gets-local-assistance-from-Tulane-grad-student

National hunger study gets local assistance from Tulane grad student

by Naomi King Englar

Visiting food banks across South Louisiana this summer, Tulane public health graduate student Kaity Storck said she gained valuable insights while helping coordinate and evaluate a national hunger study.

Conducted once every four years, the Hunger in America Study collects comprehensive data on the demographic makeup and socio-economic situation of individuals and families that access the emergency food system. Second Harvest of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana uses the report to target particular areas of need, identify effective distribution systems and advocate on behalf of its clients. A total of 520 surveys were collected from food bank clients in South Louisiana.

With such a large-scale study to conduct across its 240 member agencies in 23 parishes, Second Harvest Food Bank hired Storck to specifically work on the study and assess how to improve its implementation in the future. Storck was hired through the Tulane Prevention Research Center’s practicum program, which matches graduate student interns and local host organizations for 300-hour practicum experiences.

Storck was involved with multiple levels of the study, such as visiting agencies to implement surveys and interviewing staff afterward to collect feedback on the study's implementation. She also created a study manual and a guide for implementation that includes planning tools.

“The enormity and importance of this survey required assistance,” said Paige Vance, Community Outreach Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank and one of Storck's supervisors for the internship. “Kaity went out and collected data, served as a lead onsite, reached out to verify information with the partner agencies and maintained detailed and accurate records for Second Harvest.”

For Storck, the experience was an in-depth look into the workings of food distribution systems and the details involved with executing national studies. Making sure volunteers, staff and agencies were prepared was important. She also discovered that surveys can often have literacy levels above those of the survey participants.

“Working with Second Harvest on the Hunger in America Study provided valuable insight into the emergency food system in America and exposed me to the potential challenges of applying nutrition programs to people through this system,” said Storck, a second year graduate student at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. "As a nutrition student this perspective will certainly help me in the future as I hope to work in the U.S. fight against obesity.”

For more information about Second Harvest, visit no-hunger.org.

(Photo by Tulane PRC Staff: Tulane public health graduate student Kaity Storck and Paige Vance, Community Outreach Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank, stand outside the food bank’s central office in Harahan, La.)

Topics:   diet , nutrition , food environment , community health , fpac , practicum

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