School of Professional Studies

Date of Award

5-2021

Degree Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Department

School of Professional Studies

Chief Instructor

Mary Piecewicz

Abstract

Worcester, Massachusetts is a postindustrial city with high levels of potential that faces the persistent obstacle of food insecurity for its low-income and ethnic minority communities. This research thesis examines food insecurity in general and explores data and trends in Worcester, then combines this with conceptual frameworks which explain how socioeconomic factors play into food security. It also explains the systemic inequalities present as a result of food insecurity and critiques academic assumptions surrounding food insecurity. One of these assumptions is that food deserts on their own can explain food insecurity in Worcester and elsewhere, though it has been found that food swamps and food mirages are more accurate representations of the reality of food insecurity. With this theoretical foundation set, the paper builds towards general solutions to food insecurity and specific solutions that work for Worcester. It is found that food insecurity is ultimately a complex issue rooted in systemic inequalities, especially when it comes to the disproportionate rate of food insecurity among ethnic minority communities in Worcester and around the U.S. Recommendations are made, mostly depending on the key strength that is Worcester’s highly collaborative network of community organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and government which combats food insecurity in a coordinated manner, with different organizations fulfilling different roles of relief and social justice empowerment. With Worcester at a turning point as it begins to see more and more economic development investments, it is important that the city’s organizations continue to collaborate on eliminating food insecurity and develop a cohesive, equitable economic development strategy so all residents can enjoy the opportunity that Worcester promises.

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