Using a trauma-informed policy approach to create a resilient urban food system

Amelie A. Hecht, Erin Biehl, Sarah Buzogany, Roni A. Neff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective Food insecurity is associated with toxic stress and adverse long-term physical and mental health outcomes. It can be experienced chronically and also triggered or exacerbated by natural and human-made hazards that destabilize the food system. The Baltimore Food System Resilience Advisory Report was created to strengthen the resilience of the city's food system and improve short-and long-term food security. Recognizing food insecurity as a form of trauma, the report was developed using the principles of trauma-informed social policy. In the present paper, we examine how the report applied trauma-informed principles to policy development, discuss the challenges and benefits of using a trauma-informed approach, and provide recommendations for others seeking to create trauma-informed food policy. Design Report recommendations were developed based on: semi-structured interviews with food system stakeholders; input from community members at outreach events; a literature review; Geographic Information System mapping; and other analyses. The present paper explores findings from the stakeholder interviews. Setting Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Subjects Baltimore food system stakeholders stratified by two informant categories: organizations focused on promoting food access (n 13) and community leaders (n 12). Results Stakeholder interviews informed the recommendations included in the report and supported the idea that chronic and acute food insecurity are experienced as trauma in the Baltimore community. Conclusions Applying a trauma-informed approach to the development of the Baltimore Food System Resilience Advisory Report contributed to policy recommendations that were community-informed and designed to lessen the traumatic impact of food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1961-1970
Number of pages10
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Food security
  • Policy
  • Resilience
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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