Using systems science to gain insight into childhood food security in the United States: Report of an expert mapping workshop

Nancy L. Fleischer, Angela D. Liese, Ross Hammond, Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Craig Gundersen, Jay Hirschman, Edward A. Frongillo, Xiaoguang Ma, Neil Mehta, Sonya J. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Eliminating childhood hunger and supporting households in need of food are US policy priorities, because food insecurity in the US remains elevated postrecession. The objective of this study was to bring a systems science lens to the issue of childhood food security. We used a qualitative systems mapping process (a “soft” systems science approach) to develop and describe a systems framework for childhood food security using a visual map. A first step was accomplished through convening a facilitated expert workshop in which we developed the systems map shown here. The systems map contains information on the sectors (e.g., government, private etc.), actors (e.g., children, caregivers, etc.), programs and policy levers (e.g., food and nutrition assistance programs, public goods and services, etc.), and flows (e.g., money, food, social support, etc.) pertinent to childhood food security. Situated at the center of the map is the interrelationship of competing demands and resources for caregivers and children. We use the systems map to discuss how qualitative and quantitative systems science techniques can be applied to further advance childhood food security research by defining a research agenda. The present article serves as a call to action to invest in systems science research on childhood food security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-384
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Child hunger
  • food insecurity
  • mapping
  • policy action
  • systems science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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