MappingFoodInsecurity - Using GIS as a Nutrition Education...

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Black Hawk County Food Security Alliance Page 1 Mapping Food Insecurity: Using GIS as a Nutrition Education Tool What is GIS? GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. GIS is a computer technology that uses a geographic information system as an analytic framework for managing and integrating data; solving a problem; or understanding a past, present, or future situation. Most data has geographic components and therefore can be represented in maps. Most people are familiar with the use of GIS to provide maps and locations for emergency 911 services. The potential uses for GIS extend beyond emergency services and are limitless—in Black Hawk County, GIS is being used to examine food insecurity. Case Study: Black Hawk County, Iowa Black Hawk County is the third most populated county in Iowa—more than 125,000 residents. Its largest cities are Waterloo and Cedar Falls. This population base is culturally diverse. Waterloo has the largest percentage of African American residents in Iowa. In addition, Bosnian refugees have relocated to Black Hawk County since the mid 1990s and the Hispanic population is increasing. Economic indicators for Black Hawk County suggest that many residents are struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. The county unemployment rate exceeds the state average, while both earnings and income levels are less than state averages. The poverty rate of 14.8% in the county and 17.5% in Waterloo exceed the state’s rate. Poverty is particularly troublesome in terms of our children – the child poverty rate is 20.6% in the county and 28.6% in Waterloo. Despite low earnings and income, rents in Black Hawk County exceed the state average, and 49.3% of our renters pay at least 35% of their income just to pay their rent. To address hunger issues, Black Hawk County has the fulltime presence of numerous hunger prevention and nutrition education agencies. In Spring 2005, a group of service providers and nutrition education professionals formed to study food insecurity in Black Hawk County. At issue was painting a picture of who is being served—are there gaps in service and are services being duplicated? GIS mapping was employed to examine the location of food insecurity. Fall 2006 Troubling Indicators: Higher unemployment Lower earnings and income Higher poverty rates Higher rents Disproportionate housing costs
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Black Hawk County Food Security Alliance Page 2 GIS – A Nutrition Education Tool Nutrition education in its traditional sense is teaching people about healthy choices. MyPyramid Food Pyramid, “5 A Day” fruits and vegetables campaign, and Iowa’s “Pick a Better Snack” curriculum are some examples. These
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This note was uploaded on 07/11/2011 for the course MIS 658 taught by Professor Dr.d during the Spring '11 term at Our Lady of Holy Cross College.

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MappingFoodInsecurity - Using GIS as a Nutrition Education...

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