University of California

Food insecurity prominent among low-income California Latinos


Lucia L. Kaiser
Anna C. Martin
Diane L. Metz
Yvonne Nicholson
Mary Lavender Fujii
Cathi L. Lamp
Marilyn S. Townsend
Patricia B. Crawford
Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez

Authors Affiliations

L.L. Kaiser is Nutrition Specialist, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis; A.C. Martin is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Joaquin County; D.L. Metz is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UCCE Solano County; Y. Nicholson is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UCCE Sacramento County; M.L. Fujii is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UCCE Contra Costa County; C.L. Lamp is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UCCE Tulare County; M.S. Townsend is Nutrition Education Specialist, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis; P.B. Crawford is Nutrition Specialist, Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, UC Berkeley; H. Melgar-Quiñonez is Assistant Professor, Department of Human Nutrition, Ohio State University (formerly Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Nutrition, UC Davis).

Publication Information

Hilgardia 58(1):18-23. DOI:10.3733/ca.v058n01p18. January 2004.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


Food security is defined as access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. In a study of 212 low-income Latino households in California, 45% were food insecure without hunger; 13% food insecure with moderate hunger; and 3% food insecure with severe hunger. Food insecurity was associated with a decline in household supplies of both nutritious and less nutritious foods. Among preschool children, the number of servings per day of all food groups was significantly correlated with household food supplies. A strong safety net to improve food security in low-income populations must include educational strategies and provision of nutritious foods to support a good diet at home and away from home.


Alaimo K, Briefel R, Frongillo EA, Olson CM. Food insufficiency exists in the United States: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Am J Public Health. 1998. 88:419-26. PubMed PMID: 9518974

Anderson SA. Core indicators of nutritional state for difficult-to-sample populations. J Nutr. 1990. 121:1559-600.

Andrews M, Nord M. Food Security is Improving in the United States. US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Ag Info Bull No 765-7. Washington, DC. 2 p 2001.

Beto JA, Sheth G, Rewers P. Assessing food purchase behavior among low-income black and Hispanic clients using a self-reported shelf inventory. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997. 97:69-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-8223(97)00023-0 PubMed PMID: 8990422

Bickel G, Nord M, Price C, et al. Guide to Measuring Household Food Security, Revised 2000. US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. 2000. Alexandria, VA: 76p.

Birch LL, Marlin DW. I don't like it; I never tried it: Effects of exposure to two-year-old children's food preferences. Appetite. 1982. 3:353-60. PubMed PMID: 7168567

Derrickson JP, Fisher AG, Anderson JEL, Brown AC. An assessment of various household food security measures in Hawaii has implications for national food security research and monitoring. J Nutr. 2001. 131:749-57. PubMed PMID: 11238755

Hamilton WL, Cook JT, Thompson WW, et al. Household Food Security in the United States in 1995. US Department of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Service. 1997. Washington, DC: 95p.

Healthy People 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 2000. www.healthypeople.gov/About/ (accessed 11/26/03)

Kaiser LL, Martinez NA, Harwood JO, Garcia LC. Child feeding strategies in low-income Latino households: Focus group observations. J Am Diet Assoc. 1999. 5:601-3. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-8223(99)00148-0

Kaiser LL, Melgar-Quiñonez HR, Lamp CL, et al. Food security and nutritional outcomes of Latino preschoolers. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002. 102:924-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-8223(02)90210-5 PubMed PMID: 12146552

Kaiser L, Melgar-Quiñonez H, Townsend MS, et al. Food insecurity and food supplies in Latino households with young children. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2003. 35:148-53. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1499-4046(06)60199-1 PubMed PMID: 12773286

Kendall A, Olson CM, Frongillo EA Jr. Relationship of hunger and food insecurity to food availability and consumption. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996. 96:1019-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-8223(96)00271-4 PubMed PMID: 8841164

Kleinman RE, Murphy JM, Little M, et al. Hunger in children in the United States: Potential behavioral and emotional correlates. Pediatrics. 1998. 101:E3-https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.101.1.e3 PubMed PMID: 9417167

Matheson D, Varady J, Varady A, Killen JD. Household food security and nutritional status of Hispanic children in the fifth grade. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002. 76:210-7. PubMed PMID: 12081837

Melgar-Quiñonez HR, Martin AC, Metz D, et al. Inseguridad alimentaria en Latinos de California: Observaciones de grupos focales. Salud Publica. 2003. 45:198-204.

Nord M, Andrews M, Carlson S. Household Food Security in the United States, 2002. US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Research Rep No 35. 58 p 2003. www.ers.usda.gov/publications/fanrr35/ (accessed 11/26/03).

Nord M, Jemison K, Bickel G. Measuring food security in the United States: Prevalence of food insecurity and hunger by state, 1996-1998. US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Food and Nutrition Research Rep No 2. Washington, DC. 17 p 1999.

Olson CM. Nutrition and health outcomes associated with food insecurity and hunger. J Nutr. 1999. 129:521-4S.

Rose D. Economic determinants and dietary consequences of food insecurity in the United States. J Nutr. 1999. 129:517-20S.

Tarasuk VS, Beaton GH. Women's dietary intakes in the context of household food insecurity. J Nutr. 1999. 129:672-9. PubMed PMID: 10082773

Townsend MS, Peerson J, Love B, et al. Food insecurity is positively related to overweight in women. J Nutr. 2001. 131:1738-45. PubMed PMID: 11385061

[USDA] US Department of Agriculture. Tips for Using the Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children 2 to 6 years. Center for Nutrition and Policy Promotion. Program Aid 1647 1999. Washington, DC:

Kaiser L, Martin A, Metz D, Nicholson Y, Fujii M, Lamp C, Townsend M, Crawford P, Melgar-Quiñonez H. 2004. Food insecurity prominent among low-income California Latinos. Hilgardia 58(1):18-23. DOI:10.3733/ca.v058n01p18
Webmaster Email: sjosterman@ucanr.edu