Homelessness and hunger

Barrett A. Lee, Meredith J. Greif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We employ data from the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients to examine the character and correlates of hunger among homeless people. Our analysis, couched in an adaptation framework, finds more support for the differentiation hypothesis than for the leveling hypothesis: Complex patterns of food insecurity exist at the individual level, and they vary with the resources available (e.g., higher monthly income, regular shelter use) and obstacles faced (e.g., alcohol, drug, and physical and mental health problems). The chronically homeless, who suffer from multiple deficits, appear particularly food-insecure, a finding that favors the desperation hypothesis over its street-wisdom alternative. We conclude that hunger is not uniformly experienced by members of the homeless population. Rather, some individuals are better situated than others to cope with the stressful nature of homelessness when addressing their sustenance needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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