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Application of a Theoretical Model Toward Understanding Continued Food Insecurity Post Hurricane Katrina

  • Lauren A. Clay (a1) (a2), Mia A. Papas (a3), Kimberly Gill (a2) and David M. Abramson (a4)

Disaster recovery efforts focus on restoring basic needs to survivors, such as food, water, and shelter. However, long after the immediate recovery phase is over, some individuals will continue to experience unmet needs. Ongoing food insecurity has been identified as a post-disaster problem. There is a paucity of information regarding the factors that might place an individual at risk for continued food insecurity post disaster.


Using data from a sample (n=737) of households severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina, we estimated the associations between food insecurity and structural, physical and mental health, and psychosocial factors 5 years after Hurricane Katrina. Logistic regression models were fit and odds ratios (OR) and 95% CI estimated.


Nearly one-quarter of respondents (23%) reported food insecurity 5 years post Katrina. Marital/partner status (OR: 0.7, CI: 0.42, 0.99), self-efficacy (OR: 0.56, CI: 0.37, 0.84), sense of community (OR: 0.7, CI: 0.44, 0.98), and social support (OR: 0.59, CI: 0.39, 0.89) lowered the odds of food insecurity and explained most of the effects of mental health distress on food insecurity. Social support, self-efficacy, and being partnered were protective against food insecurity.


Recovery efforts should focus on fostering social-support networks and increased self-efficacy to improve food insecurity post disaster. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:47–56)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to Lauren Clay, PhD, MPH, Health Services Administration, D’Youville College, 320 Porter Avenue, KAB 429, Buffalo, NY 14201 (e-mail:
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