Scarcity & Cognitive Capacity: Addressing the Overlapping Effect of SDOH through Emergency Food Provision

Your Name and Title: Michael Bowersox/Director, Connections4Health

Library, School, or Organization Name: Southwest Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center

Co-Presenter Name(s): n/a

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s): Anyone interacting with marginalized populations

Short Session Description (one line): One method for addressing the social health needs of marginalized people living in medically underserved neighborhoods 

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):

Poverty taxes the mind. When faced with multiple, and perhaps competing demands, the more demands that are pressed upon us the harder it is to navigate getting our needs met. The experience of scarcity and stress that comes with living in poverty decreases cognitive capacity and literally changes the brain. It narrows mental bandwidth and orients the mind automatically and powerfully toward unfulfilled needs, fostering ongoing cognitive deficits that reinforces a cycle of self-defeating actions. 

But these changes are not permanent, and we must be careful not to lay blame on the individual caught in a cycle of self-defeating actions. It is perhaps helpful to recognize that someone in such a cycle is demonstrating a considerable amount of resilience, and strength.

Ultimately, this session offers one method for improving health and wellbeing by taking a person-centered approach to addressing social health needs. Focusing on food insecurity, connections are made among the following areas: 

  • the mitigating role overlapping social determinants of health have on cognitive capacity
  • how cognitive capacity is effected by scarcity and stress
  • chronic stressors associated with health disparities
  • how targeted, collaborative interventions around food security offer a ripple effect providing more ‘mental bandwidth,’ creating opportunity for improved health and wellbeing

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:

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Hi, Michael. Thank you so much for submitting.

The reviewers found your proposal to be interesting, but felt like it needed to be connected more directly to libraries. We're not accepting currently, but I've sent you a separate email about re-submitting if you would like.





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