Center for Nutrition and Food Security: Hunger Map

Student: Adremae Alotaya

Food insecurity is an inconsistent access or inability to prepare nutritious foods. In the United States, about 1 in every 6 adults lack the access to nutritious foods. In Duval County, 20.1% of adults suffer from Food Insecurity. Causes of food insecurity is multifactorial and can have a negative effect on an individual’s mental and physical health. The Center for Nutrition and Food Security at the University of North Florida (UNF) is working to address the food insecurity in Northeast Florida by creating a Hunger Map. The Hunger Map consists of four levels. Level 1, 2, 3, and 4 is supply, demand, health information and availability and affordability, respectively. Level 1 (supply) is a master list of food pantries in Northeast Florida. Level 2 (demand) calculates the food demand and determines whether or not that demand is being met. Level 3 (health information) uses UNF entities to survey individuals participating in food pantry services. Survey questions consist of general demographic, food security, depression, anxiety, and physical health questions. Level 4 (availability and affordability) uses UNF entities to compare the availability and cost of different food items in markets located in food deserts and nonfood deserts. The Hunger Map will not be completed by the end of the Spring semester of 2021 and is an ongoing project. The purpose of the Hunger Map is to create a comprehensive assessment of hunger in Northeast Florida to serve as a resource for future programs, services, advocacy, and grants. As the project leader working on the Hunger Map, it was my responsibility to work on levels 1 and 3. To date, I was able to dedicate 45 hours to my project and was able to complete 50 surveys for level 3 and help compile and verify the information for the food pantries in level 1. This experience has been extremely rewarding and I hope to help spread more awareness of food insecurity. Taking surveys of food insecure individuals gave me a whole new sense of empathy. The individuals using the food pantries had their own struggles and being able to get food for themselves and their family is a much-needed victory in their lives. With food waste rising, it is my hope that our community is able to redistribute food, resources, and grants to the areas in need.