Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft


Social Work


Mothers and children from impoverished families discuss the continuous sacrifices related to food insecurity. Sacrifices like trade-offs can lead to attention of a family’s immediate needs like food but these often come with the cost or sacrifice of other long term needs such as a means of income. Working with children and their families in attending to the underlying causes for their food insecurity may not only help to alleviate their immediate but also their long term needs in maintaining a standard of living. This systematic literature review was designed to investigate the research question: What interventions are being taken by social workers in schools to improve nutritional education and food accessibility among school-aged children from disadvantaged families? The literature review was set up using peer- reviewed and scholarly articles published after 2000. The PsycINFO database was systematically searched using the terms; "nutrition" and "school" and "social work" or "social services". From this search five articles satisfied criteria for inclusion but only four were available in full text and used in the final review. Five underlying themes emerged from the research synthesis regarding areas in which social workers could apply interventions for improve childhood nutrition; 1) policies, programs, and basic human rights, 2) deterrents and barriers to acquiring nutrition, 3) the school setting, 4) food quantity isn’t enough, and 5) duties of the social worker. These five themes were them applied to the three levels of the ecological perspective; macro, mezzo, and micro. Moving forward, additional research is highly required regarding childhood nutrition and the role of the social worker in order to better understand other areas for potential interventions and improvement. Exploration of empowerment approaches should also be taken into consideration, especially those that align with parents and emphasize the point that food insecurity is not their fault, but a fault of society. This could potentially be an important therapeutic strategy as well as an area for further study.

Included in

Social Work Commons