Background: In the Appalachian region, food insecurity is an issue that plagues many of its people. The region, largely rural, often has limited funding for resources, education, and food options; therefore, many suffer at the hand of unhealthy food accessibility.
Methods: A systematic literature review of peer-reviewed articles was conducted from 2005- 2020 concentrating on food insecurity in the Appalachian region, with a focus on women and children. Utilizing Google Scholar as our primary search engine and the search terms Appalachian and food insecurity, 581 articles were initially identified. We next narrowed our search to 117 articles that emphasized women and children. We finalized our review of the 117 articles to identify ones that provide specific intervention and policy strategies.
Results: Our review found that across the published research, the Appalachia region experiences significant food insecurity challenges for women and children. Fortunately, there are several federal programs that can be and are utilized as leverage for intervention and policy response. Some of the largest, most influential programs include: Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and the Farm Bill. SNAP is the most far-reaching. WIC is most specialized for women and children. The Farm Bill focuses on specific populations in need. Medical providers and public health officials also play a huge role in combating food insecurity among women and children in Appalachia.
Discussion: Maternal and child nutrition is an aspect that is overlooked. However, it’s vital that this vulnerable population receives proper attention. Due to rural circumstances, women are restricted on providing necessary and healthy nutrients to their children. Without proper nutrition, growth and development for infants is impaired. Implementing evidence-based interventions and policy strategies in rural Appalachia can sustainably improve the health outcomes of women and children across their lifespans.