College of Human Sciences researchers address needs of underserved populations

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University College of Human Sciences faculty have recently completed research that assesses needs of three underserved populations -- Latino families in Iowa, the state's food pantry clients, and student military veterans. These studies may make good story prospects:

FOOD INSECURITY AND LATINO IMMIGRANT FAMILIES -- Achieving and maintaining food security -- having the means and ability to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all family members -- appears to be a constant struggle for rural Latino immigrant families living in Iowa. That's according to a study conducted by Iowa State researchers on 10 Latino immigrant families within the state who participated in the 17-state Rural Families Speak research project. According to lead researcher Kimberly Greder -- an ISU associate professor of human development and family studies and family life Extension state specialist -- the study informs family practitioners seeking to identify strategies and policies that will smooth the integration of Latino immigrant families into their new home communities. Findings will be shared during a one-hour webinar starting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13. Issues related to housing and depression among Latino immigrants will also be discussed during the webinar. Additional information and registration is available here. CONTACT: Greder, (515) 294-5906,

OPENING THE DOOR TO FOOD PANTRY CLIENTS -- A 2008 Iowa State survey of food pantry clients in Iowa has revealed that, in addition to being food insecure, this population has -- and is at a greater risk of acquiring -- severe health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Steve Garasky, an ISU professor of human development and family studies, has worked closely with Kim Greder and four county-based ISU Extension nutrition and health field specialists to learn more about the living, eating and wellness habits of food pantry clients. The researchers' 2008 questionnaire -- conducted in Black Hawk, Kossuth, Polk and Woodbury counties at two times during the year -- shows 70 percent of the survey population was classified as either obese (40 percent) or overweight (30 percent). In comparison, data from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey of a random sample of Iowans reports that 64.3 percent of Iowans are considered obese (26.7 percent) or overweight (37.6 percent). CONTACTS: Garasky, (515) 294-9826,

BACK TO SCHOOL WITH STUDENT VETERANS -- A pair of Iowa State researchers studied the transition experiences of six student military veterans (five men and one woman) who re-enrolled into a large land-grant Midwestern university (one was a transfer student) following active deployment with their National Guard and Reserve units. Corey Rumann, a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and policy studies (ELPS); and Florence Hamrick, an associate professor in ELPS, conducted the research. Rumann did three interviews with each of the student veterans over the course of a year. While returning to a prior sense of "normalcy" was seen as impossible by the students, they emphasized how reconciling between their military and academic cultures -- and the bi-cultural literacy that came with it -- was a key part of renegotiating their personal identities. The ISU researchers presented their findings in a paper at the American Education Research Association Annual Meeting last month. CONTACTS: Rumann, (515) 294-9550, (307) 272-3488 (c),; Hamrick, (515) 294-9628,