Award Date

5-15-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Community Health Sciences

First Committee Member

Courtney Coughenour

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Pharr

Third Committee Member

Sheila Clark

Fourth Committee Member

Ian McDonough

Number of Pages

71

Abstract

Food insecurity affects millions of Americans each year, inflicting negative consequences on the physical and mental health outcomes at all ages. Concurrently, millions of tons of leftover edible foods are sent to landfill each year. Not only does this pose a question of ethics, but increasingly harms the environment by misusing resources and increasing the release of

greenhouse gases.

Food rescue advisory meetings highlighted the need for more focused research to be conducted that assessed the impacts of donating rescued convention food on local environmental and community health. A mixed-method approach was used to detail the food rescue process between a local convention center and food bank, and to estimate the impact that this donated

food had on meal creation and greenhouse gas diversion. Quantitative methods analyzed the amount of food recovered and meals created, and estimations on changes in greenhouse gas emissions due to food waste diverted from landfills. Qualitative analysis of stakeholder interviews gave insight into the perceived benefits, challenges, and client perceptions of the

program.

Interview responses formed an overview of the convention food rescue steps, from beginning to end. Three Square collaborates with 64 agency partners in the daily distribution of hundreds of meals created from food rescued from this convention center. Between August 2016 and July 2017, this convention center donated 54,460 pounds of food, creating approximately 45,383 meals. A total of 108 metric tons of greenhouse gas equivalents were avoided by diverting this food from degrading at Apex Landfill. The document analysis of interview responses related to perceived benefits, challenges, and client perceptions generated 21 codes and definitions, categorized into 5 major themes. The largest theme being Program Foundation, and the most common codes being barrier, positive, and food safety. Challenges related to funding, storage, and the ability to reallocate resources. Perceived benefits related to internal

satisfaction from program participation and client perceptions revealed a high demand for congregate meals, and a desire for consistent, nutritionally balanced, tasteful meals.

Findings have significant implications for public health, as an increase in access to low or no-cost meals for specific vulnerable populations may decrease the harmful effects of food insecurity. This may result in better health outcomes for food-insecure children and adults, and changes in resources for financial, hygiene, and/or health care needs. Greenhouse gas emissions have a deleterious effect on the earth’s atmosphere and the world’s health; avoiding emissions can lessen the effect on average atmospheric temperature and ozone depletion.

Keywords

Convention center; Food insecurity; Greenhouse Gas; Surplus Food; Waste reduction

Disciplines

Environmental Health | Environmental Health and Protection | Public Health

Language

English


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