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Food Insecurity & Urban Agriculture

December 8, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Jasmine Yu, PhD Candidate at Texas A&M University

In Missouri, 11.5% of households are considered food insecure because they have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious food to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Food insecurity can cause or worsen malnutrition, mental health disorders, and diet-related chronic diseases such as hypertension, cancer, and diabetes. Income, housing and race are strong predictors of food insecurity. Geographical regions where households have limited access to healthy and fresh food are called food deserts. Urban agriculture can provide a source of healthy produce, increase healthy food knowledge, and promote engagement within food insecure communities.

Science Highlights

  • Food insecurity is strongly correlated with nutrient deficiency, chronic illness and mental health disorders.
  • Low-income households experience the greatest rate of food insecurity. 
    • Hispanic and Black households experience a disproportionately higher rate of food insecurity compared to White households.
  • Urban agriculture aims to reduce food insecurity by engaging the community in local food production in the form of urban gardens and farms.
    • There is not enough research to determine the extent to which urban agriculture reduces food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods. 

Limitations

  • Additional analysis on urban agriculture is needed to best implement urban gardens and farms in Missouri to ensure low-income and marginalized communities benefit.
  • Large investments in capital such as land rent  and time are required to develop and maintain urban agriculture programs.
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