Latino Immigrants, Acculturation, and Local Food Systems: Examination of Food Habits and Community Connections

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The Ohio State University

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First generation Latino immigrants in the United States often live in highly segregated and low socioeconomic status neighborhoods. While subsequent Latino generations who are born in the U.S. are likely to live in less segregated areas and achieve some higher standards of social mobility, Latino immigrants themselves can face acculturation and integration challenges and stressors. Latino immigrants may have more successful acculturation through the establishment of integration strategies designed to foster social capital and improve community connections. Participation in local food systems (LFS) may serve as one strategy that promotes integration, builds social capital, enhances community engagement and support, and improves access to fresh, healthy foods. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between LFS participation and food insecurity level; the relationships among LFS participation, community connections, and acculturation; and the factors related to LFS participation among Latino immigrants. Findings suggest that LFS participation is significantly and positively related to community connections variables (i.e. both within and outside group community engagement and sense of community). The community connections variables also were significantly related to acculturation. No significant relationships were found between LFS participation and acculturation. Additionally, food insecurity scores were not related to any of the variables. Path models were conducted using LISREL 8.80 software to explore mediators between LFS participation and acculturation. The best fit was found for the model where the relationship between LFS participation and acculturation was mediated by community engagement outside of cultural/ethnic group. Last, a multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine the food source factors related to LFS participation. Two predictor variables had significant relationships with LFS participation, including food source proximity and opportunities for social experiences.



Latino immigrants, Local food systems, acculturation, community engagement, food insecurity