A system dynamics approach to examining household food insecurity


  • Kyle R. Metta Michigan State University
  • Laura Schmitt Olabisi Michigan State University
  • Renee V. Wallace FoodPLUS Detroit




Food Security, System Dynamics, Urban Food Systems, Participatory Modeling


Household food security is influenced by the socio-political environment, resource access, and experiential factors, but the systemic interactions of these drivers are rarely considered in the same study. In collaboration with stakeholders, we built a system dynamics model to examine the drivers of food insecurity in Detroit and how community-led interventions could promote food security. We found that single interventions were not as effective as multiple interventions in combination, due to the complex limits on a households’ ability to purchase healthy foods. The iterative modeling process allowed stakeholders to jointly understand and generate insights into the cross-scale limits that households must navigate in order to achieve food security. Furthermore, our modeling effort demonstrates how time is a fundamental resource stock that limits the efficacy of behavioral and structural interventions.


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Author Biographies

Kyle R. Metta, Michigan State University

Ph.D., Department of Community Sustainability. Dr. Metta is now Community Systems Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Community Health and Development, University of Kansas.

Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Michigan State University

Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Community Sustainability

Renee V. Wallace, FoodPLUS Detroit

Executive Director



How to Cite

Metta, K., Olabisi, L., & Wallace, R. (2021). A system dynamics approach to examining household food insecurity. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(2), 455–472. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.102.028