Dalila D'Ingeo

Systemic racism, food insecurity and the role of community gardens in bridging social networks among African American adolescents in USA

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In the United States, food insecurity disproportionately affects African Americans living in poverty. Centuries of systemic racism have limited material prosperity and social mobility among this population, leading to persistent socioeconomic and health disparities. This paper investigates food insecurity as experienced by African American adolescents in low-income, segregated neighborhoods of Tallahassee, FL. It examines how food habits are shaped by social networks in contexts impacted by poverty and systemic racism. It also studies community gardens as geographies of connection where adolescents expand their social networks and food knowledge. Results show that adolescents’ food habits are constrained by poverty and systemic discrimination, but also significantly influenced by social networks, in particular by family members and community garden leaders. More than a systematic solution to food insecurity in communities neglected by the government, community gardens emerge as social hubs where adolescents build bridging social capital and find opportunities for cultural and social mobility.


  • food insecurity
  • systemic racism
  • adolescents
  • social networks
  • community gardens


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