by Lilly O’Connell
As we rounded the bend of the year’s halfway point, the VIA research team took to the field for the next set of our interviews, reconnecting with the mothers and grandmothers we interviewed in the first year of our project. During the first half of this year, we worked hard to incorporate the voices we heard in Harnett, Lee, and Wake counties into our new interview questions. Now, we are reaching out to community members to see how things have changed for them since we saw them last.
Many mothers we spoke to in 2012 were trying to change their diets and get more exercise, but faced challenges like a lack of money, time, or social support. This year, we’re checking in to see which of these efforts have worked and not worked, to try to find out more about how communities can support individuals trying to make healthy changes. We also heard from many mothers who visited food pantries when times were tight. Participants were grateful for this important resource, but some shared mixed feelings about the food they received. This year we are asking for more stories about food pantry visits, to better highlight how important it is that food pantries receive the support they need in order to best assist their communities.
The children of our participants are now a year or two older than they were during the first round of interviews, and we also want to hear how they are doing! Some have changed schools, or started school, and some may even have new siblings. This year, we look forward to talking with our participants more about their children and hearing how they have grown since we saw them last. And, as the first interviews, we want to continue learning more about the strategies that resourceful North Carolina families use to feed their families in tough times.
Getting back into the field has been challenging in some ways. We start by reaching out to the mothers and grandmothers that we interviewed in 2012, and sometimes it can be hard to get in touch if people have changed phone numbers or moved. We also have new equipment, like our special “stadiometers” to help us get accurate measures of height, and new schedules to adjust to. At the same time, it has been great to reconnect with our participants, and some moms and grandmothers have already graciously invited us back into their homes to speak with them again. We are learning about how the summer can be a tough time for some families, when kids are home from school and aren’t able to eat breakfast or lunch at school, and we’re also learning how savvy many shoppers are, buying different types of food at different stores in order to make the most of sales and coupons.
As the year continues, we look forward to reconnecting with more voices from the first year of the project. We appreciate the continued support of mothers in Harnett, Lee, and Wake county, and are grateful for their willingness to share their stories. Be on the lookout for calls from the research team, and we hope to see you soon!