Assessing Household Food Security: Leasina County, American Samoa

Asifoa-Lagai, Molly
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American Samoa is an unincorporated US territory located south of the equator. It is consisted of two groups of islands, Manu’a and Tutuila. The Tutuila island is the most populated island, where all the main public and private sectors are located. The 2012 population is estimated at 68,000. In the year 2000, 62 percent of individuals or 50% of families from American Samoa were below the national poverty level.1 The substantial rise in utility and food prices over the past years has significantly increased the number of American Samoans who are affected by food insecurity and poverty. Food availability and access to healthy food are challenges in the territory. About 95% of foods on island are imported, and most of these foods are processed. Perishable or fresh foods are not popular with businesses because of the expiration dates. The Household Food Security Survey (HFSS) was carried out at the Leasina county, the least populated county. The aim was to understand if food insecurity exists on island. The survey was translated into Samoan. About 44% completed the survey in the Samoan version and 56% completed the English version. An estimated 6% of the households did not have any children under the age of 19. According to the HFSS findings about 75% of the households are food insecure. Of this food insecure population, about 37% are low food security and 63% are very low food security. Of the households with no children, about 80% are food secure and 20% are food insecure. Some limitations to the study include how well the participants understood the phrase “balanced meal”. Most understood that balance meal means healthy meal, but how does it look like with everyday local food on the plate. Another limitation is the sample population. Is it really representing the population? The Leasina county is more like a rural area, compared to the most populated urban Tualauta county.
American Samoa, food security, household surveys
18 pages
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