Challenges of Social Sector Systemic Collaborations: What’s Cookin’ in Houston’s Food Insecurity Space?
Schuler, Douglas A.;Koka, Balaji R.
In this study, we seek to understand the nature of collaborations between organizations working in the food insecurity and food desert1 social spaces in Houston, Texas. Within many neighborhoods, the lack of ready access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains combines with low incomes, and other factors related to transportation, time, ability and proclivity to cook to make food insecurity and food deserts a reality for many persons. An estimated 724,750 food insecure individuals live in the Greater Houston area with a food insecurity rate of 16.6 percent, about 4 percentage points above the national average. Over 500,000 Houston residents live in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-designated food desert areas. Food insecurity and food deserts have grave effects on individual and community health. According to the Harris County Healthcare Alliance’s 2015–2016 The State of Health report, about two-thirds of the area’s adult residents were overweight and about one-third was obese,2 with variation across ethnicity. In Harris County, about one in three children is likely to be obese and about one in three children born since 2000 is likely to develop diabetes. These health challenges result in additional health care costs of $3 billion in just Harris County.