Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sclinda Janssen


Adolescent; Developmental Disabilities -- etiology; Food Supply; Poverty


Adolescents who experience food insecurity are exposed to an increased risk of health disparities related to cognitive, psychosocial, and physical functioning (Cook & Frank, 2007). Each of these domains of functioning impacts occupational performance in all roles that an adolescent assumes. Of note, the role of a student is drastically impacted. Therefore, a program to address strategies for meeting basic needs within a familiar setting, such as a school, is relevant and necessary for this population. Such a program would offer an opportunity to close the gap in disparities and increase health outcomes of adolescents who experience food insecurity as well as the effect of low-income financial restrictions (Defosset, Gase, Ijadi-Maghsoodi, & Kuo, 2017). Adolescents are an underserved population in the United States healthcare system, particularly those who come from low-income households; henceforth, it is evident that there is a need for intervention among this population (Defosset et al., 2017).

The ecology of human performance (EHP) model was selected to analyze and guide product development (Dunn, Brown, & McGuigan, 1994). EHP is centered around transactions between the person, context, and task. There is a focus on increasing performance range through participation in various roles within meaningful occupations, while utilizing contextual supports that address the specific needs of the person (Dunn et al., 1994). Additionally, principles of pedagogy were applied to guide activity development to increase participation and retention of information (Knowles, 1990).

The product is two-fold: first, a screening tool and second, an after school program. The occupational therapy practitioner will distribute the screening tool to high schools in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota school districts. The screening tool is used to identify adolescents who would benefit from intervention. The screening tool is briefly and privately completed during the school day by the adolescent. The adolescent fills out the screen to identify their own needs. The privacy of the survey is important due to the feelings of shame that are commonly associated with revealing the need for assistance, as related to limitations from food insecurity (Burke, Cayir, Hartline-Grafton, Martini, & Meade, 2016). The occupational therapy practitioner leading the activities contacts the students who are interested in participating in the program. The after school program is divided into three activities that promote occupational performance, while providing the opportunity to access resources that help to alleviate food insecurity. The activities are focused around the identified areas of growth of the population based on findings from the literature review. Each activity in the program is divided into person, context, and task sections. All the activities are tailored to the areas of need for skill development related to budgeting, meal planning and preparation, and developing a healthy routine with emotional regulation.

Multiple authors reported that there were limited resources and programs available to adolescents who experience food insecurity and restrictions of a low-income budget (Burke et al., 2016; Shtasel-Gottlieb, Palakshappa, Yang, & Goodman, 2015; To, Frongillo, Gallegos, & Moore, 2014). The following program addresses the needs of the underserved adolescent population because it provides an opportunity for growth within the cognitive, psychosocial, and physical domains.