The impact of a school food aid program on household food insecurity

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The impact of a school food aid program on household food insecurity

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Title: The impact of a school food aid program on household food insecurity
Author: Petralias, Athanassios; Papadimitriou, Eleni; Riza, Elena; Karagas, Margaret R.; Zagouras, Alexia B.A.; Linos, Athena

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Citation: Petralias, Athanassios, Eleni Papadimitriou, Elena Riza, Margaret R. Karagas, Alexia B.A. Zagouras, and Athena Linos. 2016. “The impact of a school food aid program on household food insecurity.” The European Journal of Public Health 26 (2): 290-296. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckv223.
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Abstract: Background: We had a unique opportunity to establish the extent of food insecurity and the potential impact of a large-scale school-based nutritional program, in low-socioeconomic status districts of Greece, during the current economic crisis. Methods: Around 162 schools with 25 349 students participated during the 2012–2013 school year. Each student received a daily healthy meal designed by nutrition specialists. Food insecurity levels, measured using the Food Security Survey Module were assessed at baseline and after a 1–8-month intervention period. Pre–post intervention responses were matched at an individual level. Results: Around 64.2% of children’s households experienced food insecurity at baseline. This percentage decreased to 59.1% post-intervention, P < 0.001. On an individual level, food insecurity score diminished by 6.5%, P < 0.001. After adjustment for various socioeconomic factors, for each additional month of participation, the odds of reducing the food insecurity score increased by 6.3% (OR = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.02–1.11). Those experiencing food insecurity with hunger at baseline were more likely to improve food insecurity score than those who did not (OR = 3.51, 95%CI: 2.92–4.21). Conclusion: Children and families residing in low socioeconomic areas of Greece, experience high levels of food insecurity. Our findings suggest that participation in a school-based food aid program may reduce food insecurity for children and their families in a developed country in times of economic hardship.
Published Version: doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckv223
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