Food insecurity surged in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic and still exists. A major challenge to addressing food insecurity has been a lack of timely, integrated, and accessible information about fluctuations in the food system and the risks these pose to food security. This project brings together scientists, local government, and community and private partners to co-develop a new approach to monitor and understand food systems, food access, and food security in the most populous county in the United States: Los Angeles County, California. Community perspectives are combined with novel data sources and analytics to build a comprehensive data portal that connects stakeholders in the county with rich information about the food system, and flags the issues most in need of intervention. This approach will ultimately help communities across the country to develop smart, connected, and resilient food systems that support food security for all.

The specific goals of this project are to: (i) develop a conceptual model of food insecurity within the Los Angeles County food system; (ii) use this model to identify and analyze novel data sources that represent important features of the local food system, and generate new insights about this system, especially during a crisis event that interrupts the expected flow of food to people; and (iii) build a data portal to share this information and insights in a timely way with stakeholders who have an interest in food security and food justice. The results will advance our understanding of robust and fragile aspects of food systems during a crisis. This new paradigm of monitoring the complex and dynamic nature of community food systems is a prototype that can be adopted across cities and counties in the U.S. to optimize food system resilience, and better support food security and equity in the future.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Kayla de la Haye
Kayla de la Haye is scientist at the University of Southern California's Center for Economic and Social Research, where she directs the Institute for Food System Equity. She works to promote health and prevent disease by applying social network analysis and systems science to key public health issues. Her research targets family and community social networks to promote healthy eating, food and nutrition security, and prevent chronic disease. It also explores the role of social networks in group problem solving in families, teams, and coalitions. Dr. de la Haye currently serves as Vice President of the International Network of Social Network Analysis (INSNA). In 2018, she received the INSNA Freeman Award for significant contributions to the study of social structure. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Adelaide, Australia.
Performance Period: 10/01/2021 - 09/30/2024
Institution: University of Southern California
Award Number: 2125616