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RSS FeedsIJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 1328: Moving Food Assistance into the Digital Age: A Scoping Review (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)


25 january 2022 12:20:37

IJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 1328: Moving Food Assistance into the Digital Age: A Scoping Review (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)

One of the most basic needs globally, food assistance refers to the multitude of programs, both governmental and non-governmental, to improve food access and consumption by food-insecure individuals and families. Despite the importance of digital and mobile Health (mHealth) strategies in food insecurity contexts, little is known about their specific use in food assistance programs. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to address that gap by conducting a scoping review of the literature. Keywords were defined within the concepts of food assistance and digital technology. The search included relevant peer-reviewed and grey literature from 2011 to 2021. Excluded articles related to agriculture and non-digital strategies. PRISMA guidelines were followed to perform a partnered, two-round scoping literature review. The final synthesis included 39 studies of which most (84.6%) were from the last five years and United States-based (93.2%). The top three types of articles or studies included text and opinion, qualitative research, and website, application, or model development (17.9%). The top three types of digital tools were websites (56.4%), smartphone applications (20.5%), and chatbots (5.1%). Nineteen digital features were identified as desirable. Most tools included just one or two features. The most popular feature to include was online shopping (n = 14), followed by inventory management, and client tracking. Digital tools for individual food assistance represent an opportunity for equitable and stable access to programs that can enhance or replace in-person services. While this review identified 39 tools, all are in early development and/or implementation stages. Review findings highlight an overall lack of these tools, an absence of user-centered design in their development, and a critical need for research on their effectiveness globally. Further analysis and testing of current digital tool usage and interventions examining the health and food security impacts of such tools should be explored in future studies, including in the context of pandemics, where digital tools allow for help from a distance.

116 viewsCategory: Medicine, Pathology, Toxicology
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