Background: In common narratives of emergency food assistance, donors likely believe their efforts directly manifest as people consuming their donated food. For example, a person donating canned lima beans during a canned food drive may visualise someone eventually eating those lima beans. However, cultural and socio-economic barriers often exist that prevent people from accessing and consuming the donated food. These barriers are often complex and otherwise well-intentioned donors, volunteers and organisations may not initially consider them.
Method: This commentary article, which draws from existing US emergency food systems literature, uses the imagery of an acorn squash one might find at a US food pantry to conceptualise these barriers in a straightforward way.
Results: Examining emergency food assistance through the lens of the acorn squash problem can help donors, volunteers and organisations better connect with food-insecure people. The lens of the acorn squash problem also allows for deeper critiques of some practices of emergency food systems.
Public Health Nutrition
Cambridge University Press
Jones, J. C., Christaldi, J., & Castellanos, D. C. (2022). The acorn squash problem: a digestible conceptualisation of barriers to emergency food assistance. Public Health Nutrition, 25(4), 1045-1049. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980021003748