Through the Center for Social Impact, Fairfield University partnered with Norwalk’s Healthy for Life Project (H4LP) to conduct research, study, and report on food access in the city of Norwalk, CT
FAIRFIELD, CT —The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 14.3 million U.S. households have a lack of consistent access to sufficient food to sustain an active and healthy life. With food insecurity prevalent across the nation, Fairfield University’s Center for Social Impact sought to learn more about the issue in relation to those in Fairfield County, specifically by examining population distributions and other important demographic variables as they relate to food insecurity rates in Norwalk, Conn.
The Center for Social Impact’s research team — Director Melissa Quan, Research Coordinator Jonathan Delgado, student researcher Mahammad Camara ’19, and editors Luckario Alcide ’21, Eileen Michaud ’20, and Outreach Coordinator Sophia Gourgiotis, worked alongside the Norwalk Health Department’s Healthy for Life Project (H4LP), a coalition of more than 30 agencies that aims to help all residents access healthy foods to meet their nutritional needs. The Center’s researchers studied the strengths and gaps in Norwalk’s food system, by analyzing and illustrating patterns between food insecurity rates, available services, key demographics, and social determinants of health.
From their findings, the team created 14 maps and related data tables to help understand community assets and needs. Their analyses revealed important patterns, particularly within higher population density neighborhoods. These areas showed higher rates of food insecurity among children, immigrants, single-parent households, and individuals with lower levels of educational attainment. To the credit of the food support network within Norwalk, their research also confirmed the prevalence of critical food services near these highest-impact areas. Data from the study will be used to further inform service and program improvements across the city.
With this current research completed, Quan said the Center, along with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students, plans to continue to partner with H4LP and other local agencies to expand their study of food access. “Food insecurity has increased sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic, and agencies need data to understand and address the impact.”
This article originally appeared on the Fairfield Patch