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Parental Incarceration's Effects on Childhood Eating Patterns

"Parental Incarceration's Effects on Childhood Eating Patterns". Law, Societies, and Justice, Munizza, E. J., Honors Thesis, 2021.

Based on the knowledge that children learn to eat and develop lifelong nutritional patterns as part of their families, and that parental incarceration breaks family units apart, I investigate the question: How does a parent’s incarceration shape the trajectory of a child’s developmental food environment, including meal structure, staple foods, and changes in routine? I predicted that parental incarceration would be associated with negative changes in a child’s food environment by disrupting previously held family eating routines and by creating additional barriers to healthfully feeding a family. I conducted semi-structured interviews with formerly incarcerated parents or co-parents whose partners are currently imprisoned. Analysis of the interviews shows evidence of family eating pattern disruption and constrained choice limiting food options as a result of incarceration. I also found evidence of the positive effects that eating together has for families during and after a period of incarceration. These findings implicate parental incarceration as a potential factor in creating challenges and barriers to feeding a family and disruption of healthy meal patterns for children.

Related Fields/Tags: Nutrition, Food Access, Family Unit

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