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Food Security Among Latin American Adolescent Migrants in North America

April 23 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

MiFOOD webinar no. 17

This presentation will focus on the intersection between adolescent migration and food security in north America, with a particular focus on adolescents who migrate unaccompanied, some as ‘minors’.

Adolescence is a phase of continued growth and development in which nutritional needs are higher than in several other life course stages but are also highly variable depending on factors such as pubertal stage, gender, as well as levels of physical activity. Adolescent migrants that are mid-transit (on the move) may be especially resilient given their relative youth and overall health, but may simultaneously have heighted vulnerability to food insecurity, violence, trafficking, among other issues that migrants experience while in transit. Unaccompanied adolescents’ vulnerability to food insecurity while on the move may depend in part on emotional maturity, as well as metabolic needs, and the mismatch between the quotidian routine of overland migration and their own circadian rhythms. Additionally, adolescent migrants may be less habituated to plan for, prepare, or procure their meals, and thus the stressors of migration may particularly impact access to foods that they can use as sources of nourishment. Within Latin American migrant routes, there are additional factors that can impede food access such as perceived (and real) threats of violence, deportation, or detention, all of which may delay their ability to reach their destinations.  Local and regional well- meaning policies may inadvertently increase the perception of threat for adolescent migrants causing them to forego access to food in attempts at self-preservation.

The presenters join their expertise in policies impacting service access among migrants in Mexico (C Infante) and in food security among unaccompanied adolescent migrants (M Orjuela-Grimm) to discuss the confluence of factors that may influence food security among adolescents in active transit.


Cesar Infante Xibille (National Institute of Public Health, Mexico)

Since 2000, Dr. Cesar Infante Xibille has been undertaking research on vulnerable groups such as mobile populations, gay men, male sex workers on issues related to HIV/AIDS, human rights, and access to health care services. Cesar has been conducting research with migrants in transit through Mexico in very close collaboration with migrant houses and shelters for more than 20 years. His research has a Human Rights-related focus and greater part has concentrated on HIV/AIDS, violence (including sexual violence), stigma and discrimination, and access to health care services for migrants in transit through Mexico to the USA. Cesar is currently co-coordinator of the Research Unit on Migration and Health at the National Institute of Public Health.

Manuela Orjuela Grimm MD ScM (Columbia University, New York City)

Manuela is an associate professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at the Columbia University Medical Center. Manuela’s current research examines the intersection of nutrition, food insecurity and violence in Latin American migrants, and includes assessing dietary practices, food and nutrition insecurity and mental health outcomes in adolescents who have migrated overland as unaccompanied minors from Latin America and have resettled in NYC. Manuela has also cofounded (with Cesar Infante) a multi-sectorial working group which examines food insecurity among Latin American migrants transiting overland through Mexico. Manuela participates in a UNICEF funded working group examining the intersection of Gender Based Violence with nutrition outcomes in mothers and girls.  Other work has focused on the measurement of dietary intake, and nutrients in mothers and preschool children in Mexico and among Latin American migrants in NYC. Manuela was a visiting professor at Bielefeld University in Germany (2022), focusing on the intersection of transnationalism, migration and health.

MiFOOD is hosting a series of webinars on various topics about migration and food security that highlight the progress of the project. These webinars include conceptual discussion, empirical findings and policy analysis. Through these webinars, we intend to build a community with various stakeholders for knowledge sharing, deepen the understanding of the complex intersections between migration and food security, and facilitate the discussion of effective policy interventions. Follow the MiFOOD Twitter (Moving on Empty), Like the MiFOOD Facebook page to be notified about upcoming webinars.

Food Security among Latin American Adolescent Migrants in North America

This webinar will take place on the Zoom platform. The link will be sent to registrants on April 22.

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Young unaccompanied Venezuelan migrants in Peru.

Photo credit: Gema Cortes/IOM


April 23
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Event Category:


Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON Canada
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