The pilot study was conducted to test the appropriateness of a nutrition and food security survey and estimate the prevalence of food security and its relationship with dietary intake habits among Somali refugees (n = 35) resettled in the United States. The other main objective was to estimate the association between acculturation and dietary intake habits. The interviews with the Somali mothers indicated that 72% of households were food insecure and, in comparison, the intake of fruits and green leafy vegetables was significantly lower among the food insecure households than among secure households (p < .05). Both of the acculturation indicators used in this survey, living in the United States for four years or more and having English language proficiency, were associated with a high intake of snack items among participants. Future studies examining the influence of food security and acculturation on health outcomes such as body weight are warranted among refugees in the United States.
Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy
Dietary Intake, Food Security, and Acculturation Among Somali Refugees in The United States: Results of a Pilot Study
Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system
USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.
The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.
"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.
The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.
Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.
"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."
It doesn't have to be that way, though.
"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."
The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.
The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.
In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.
After the first year, the program is expected to grow.
"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.