(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — The Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health has been awarded one of 12 grants totaling $1.6 million from the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research to research causes and correlates of hunger among U.S. children.

Joseph R. Sharkey, Ph.D., M.P.H., RD

Joseph R. Sharkey, Ph.D., M.P.H., RD, is the founding director of the program and principal investigator.

Research will be conducted to better understand very low food security among children of Mexican-origin and the circumstances and coping strategies of Mexican-origin families in Texas border colonias.

“Compared with other populations, Mexican-origin children who live in colonias along the Texas-Mexico border are more likely to experience very low food security, previously referred to as food insecurity with hunger, which can lead to poor nutritional health and health conditions,” Dr. Sharkey said. “We know that many mothers think they are protecting their children from food insecurity even though there is limited food in the home; however, we are finding that many children experience low or very low food security. This project will help us understand food insecurity experience and coping strategies from the perspective of the child.”

In addition to Dr. Sharkey, the research team includes Wesley Dean, Ph.D.; Courtney Nalty, M.S.P.H.; Melissa Gómez, M.P.H.; Sandy Huelsebusch; and promotora-researchers Maria Davila, Mayte Garza, Thelma Aguillon, Esther Valdez and Elva Beltran.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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