New SMU-North Texas food bank study to analyze causes of hunger in North Texas

January 15th, 2013
Economics researchers at SMU will analyze the roles social networks and isolation play in fighting hunger in North Texas. A $120,000 grant from the North Texas Food Bank is funding the research.

Recent studies have examined the role of income and assets in fighting hunger or food insecurity, but have found that household economic resources are not the only factor contributing to food insecurity, says Thomas B. Fomby, SMU professor of economics and director of the Richard B. Johnson Center for Economic Studies.

According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about one in six U.S. households are affected by food insecurity, meaning not enough food at all times to sustain active, healthy lives for all family members.

Fomby and Daniel Millimet, SMU professor of economics, are conducting the study.

"This study will analyze the role of other factors causing food insecurity, such as urban or rural settings, access to nutrition assistance programs, access to inexpensive groceries, family support and social stigma," Fomby says.

According to statistics from the Texas Hunger Initiative, 27 percent of food-insecure residents in Dallas County are ineligible for most nutrition assistance programs because their incomes exceed the poverty level. In contrast, 56 percent of households with children and an income below the poverty level were not food insecure.

"With this research, we expect to better understand the causes of food insecurity in North Texas and improve the assessment of at-risk households," Fomby says.

SMU and the North Texas Food Bank recently formed a partnership, "Stampede Against Hunger," to build on SMU's strong support for NTFB, connecting campus groups already working with the food bank, as well as encouraging new types of participation for the campus and alumni community.

SMU support for the food bank has ranged from traditional food drives and volunteer work in the NTFB distribution center, to research for the food bank conducted by students in the Cox School of Business and the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. Faculty and students from the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development volunteer regularly in NTFB nutrition courses and Fondren Library staff organize a "Food for Fines" drive each year, waiving library fines in exchange for donations of non perishable food items.

Provided by Southern Methodist University

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