Dr. Humberto López Castillo


Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, leaving the island devastated. Maria directly affected the availability of nutritional food for survivors, creating an experience of food insecurity among Puerto Ricans. Using the US Adult Food Security Survey Module (Spanish Version) from the United States Department of Agriculture, Puerto Rican adult households without children (old) were assessed nine months after the hurricane with the aim of identifying specific groups of households that were food insecure and the psychological effects associated with food insecurity. Forty-six of the 85 households assessed were identified as food insecure, and 25 out of 46 of these households had a household head between 45-64 years old. Within the results from the closed and open-ended portion of the survey, effects of psychological distress were identified in association with food insecurity, along with concerns about the current availability of food, water, services, and lack of preparedness for natural disasters. This study adds an explanatory interpretation of food insecurity and psychological outcomes among Puerto Ricans after the disaster. It is recommended to expand future research through analysis on households with children in association with socioeconomic, sociocultural, sociodemographic, and health issues.

About the Author

Valeria J. Sostre Sostre is a graduate student at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, born and raised in Puerto Rico. She obtained an Associate in Arts Degree at Valencia College and completed prerequisite classes at the University of Central Florida in 2021 to continue her passion for the pharmacy field. During that time, she continued working on her research about Hurricane Maria alongside her research mentor Humberto Lopez Castillo, MD, Ph.D., CPH, CMI-Spanish, who serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at UCF. Currently, Valeria works as a pharmacy intern, acquiring knowledge and experience helping her to mold her future career as a pharmacist.



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