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A pilot evaluation investigating weekend food programs addressing food insecurity in Pittsburgh, PA

Hughes, Shannon (2017) A pilot evaluation investigating weekend food programs addressing food insecurity in Pittsburgh, PA. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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There is a significant gap in the literature regarding the effectiveness of weekend food programs aiming to decrease food insecurity among children and adolescents. In May 2016, we investigated the weekend food program implemented at different schools in the Pittsburgh area, referenced as Schools A, B and C.

A mixed-methods approach was utilized to combine descriptive information depicting the program processes along with a t-test analysis of student-based data. We analyzed 63 students' attendance rates, years of program enrollment and grades. The qualitative aspects of the study analyzed 134 students and 30 teachers. Methods included key informant interviews, survey distribution, and a community map. A paired samples t-test was conducted to compare the year of program enrollment with student grades and attendance rates. There was a significant difference in the attendance rates from students who were not enrolled in 2014-2015 (M=.93, SD=.05) and when they were enrolled in the year 2015-2016 (M=.94, SD=.06); t (62)=-2.12, p=.035). Specifically, students who were not enrolled in the weekend food program in the year of 2014-2015 experienced a significant increase in attendance when enrolled in the program during the year of 2015-2016.

The qualitative arm of this study was collected at Schools A and B in the Greater Pittsburgh Community. Results suggested a significantly positive response to weekend food program enrollment, and revealed the bags were very likely to be shared with at least one other member in the household. The findings suggested high levels of satisfaction associated with enrollment in weekend food programs. The boost in attendance serves as the foundation to explore more long-term outcomes that have yet to be addressed.

The public health significance of this paper is that it illustrates the need to address the social inequities children in low socioeconomic status disproportionately experience, it supplements the limited existent literature surrounding the evaluation of weekend food programs, and may allow future improvements for cost effectiveness and student-based outcomes. The statistical and descriptive support from this pilot evaluation strongly encourages the further analysis of weekend food programs addressing food insecurity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hughes, Shannonshh100@pitt.edushh100
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFelter,
Committee MemberHawk,
Committee MemberMartinson,
Date: 29 June 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 April 2017
Approval Date: 29 June 2017
Submission Date: 28 April 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 60
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Food Insecurity, Weekend Food Programs, Health Inequities, Evaluation
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2017 22:33
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2017 22:33


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