Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Food security, Malnutrition-Psychological aspects, Mental illness-Etiology, Social justice, Food insecurity, Food deserts, Social justice framework, Clinical social work


This study was undertaken to explore the experiences of social workers with food insecurity within the field of social work. Participants were asked to reflect on their encounters, experiences, understandings, and responses to food insecurity within their practice, and the relationship of food insecurity and clinical work. A definition of food insecurity as lack of access to nutritious food was presented to participants. Participant experience with the given definition, as well as with their own definitions of food insecurity, was explored. A snowball method was used to recruit a sample of 12 social workers with MSW degrees working in direct practice and mental health settings. The sample was notable for diversity in the types of presenting problems and range of populations served by the agencies in which participants worked. Study findings suggest that food insecurity is perceived as a critical issue in clients' lives, but that social workers do not have the resources necessary to adequately help clients address this issue. Most participants perceived food insecurity as integrally related to the profession's social justice mission, and supported the introduction of educational and training material to assist workers in addressing the issue of food insecurity in a new and thorough way.




iv, 70 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 60-61)