hero image
Allison Karpyn - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Allison Karpyn

Associate Professor, Education; Senior Associate Director, Center for Research in Education and Social Policy | University of Delaware


Prof. Karpyn can speak to topics such as obesity, food policy and community nutrition.






loading image loading image loading image






Dr. Allison Karpyn is Co-Director of the University of Delaware at the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) and Associate Professor in the Department of the Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware. Dr. Karpyn, in her 20 years of practice, has published widely in journals including Pediatrics, Preventive Medicine, and Health Affairs on program evaluation methods; topics related to hunger, obesity, school food, supermarket access, food insecurity, healthy corner stores; and, strategies to develop and maintain farmer’s markets in low-income areas. Dr. Karpyn has hands-on experience working with community-based agencies and institutions, including non-profit organizations and retailers, to implement and study-specific approaches to increase access to high-quality food in low-income communities. In 2017-2018 Dr. Karpyn served as a Fulbright Scholar to study food insecurity and hunger in the Bahamas. In addition to her position at the University of Delaware, she is a Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Public Health Initiatives. Allison earned her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and her Doctorate in Policy Research Evaluation and Measurement at The University of Pennsylvania.

Industry Expertise (5)

Public Safety

Food and Beverages

Food Distribution

Social Services

Public Policy

Areas of Expertise (8)

Farmer’s Markets

Supermarket Access


Food Insecurity

Public Health

School Food



Answers (1)

Why is food security an issue for island nations like the Bahamas?

View Answer >

The majority of their food is reliant on imports, and that adds a different dimension to the word food security. A lot of times in the U.S., when we think about food security, it's having adequate access to affordable nutritious food. But there, adequate access means that the ship is able to arrive at port, that it has food on it, and that the relationship with wherever it's coming from is strong.In the U.S. we have a school breakfast program and a school lunch program, but if you really think about what the cost of those programs looks like, for a small developing nation, it's kind of out of reach. The Bahamas, in particular, has very little capacity, if any, to monitor food security. Fundamental data that can drive any decision making is just missing, so it's really a matter of helping a country that is desperate for the information but doesn't have the infrastructure or the money to be able to fund it.

Media Appearances (5)

Examining food insecurity and nutrition in schools

Delaware Public Media  radio


Karpyn discusses school lunches, food deserts and other factors in Delaware that are impacting grades and health of students.

view more

A Century After the Tulsa Race Massacre, a Grocery Store Opens to Serve the Community

Civil Eats  online


The effects of a new, independently owned grocery store on a community are multi-layered, said Allison Karpyn, co-director of the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy at the University of Delaware. First off, they provide jobs, usually on a local scale. Sometimes they can provide jobs to people with criminal records who otherwise may not be able to earn a livable wage to support themselves and any family they may have, she said.

view more

Dollar Stores Aren’t the Answer To Alleviating Food Insecurity, So What Is?

Well+Good  online


Dollar stores typically operate in low-income areas without grocery stores, according to a paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. "Our research found that about 60 percent of dollar-store [shoppers come from] households with incomes less than $50,000 a year, and 30 percent [earn] less than $25,000 a year," says Allison Karpyn, PhD, an associate professor and senior associate director of the University of Delaware's Center for Research in Education and Social Policy and the co-author of a paper published in UNSCN Nutrition that discusses how people in food-insecure areas shop for groceries.

view more

This Woman is On a Mission to Turn Beer into Food

FreeThink  online


Food insecurity isn’t uncommon in America. Allison Karpyn, associate professor in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware, says that one in six people in America don’t have enough food for a healthy lifestyle and it affects children most. She says that current benefits programs, like SNAP or WIC, aren’t enough. As food prices increase with inflation, benefits aren’t keeping up and are inadequate for supporting a family. Karpyn says we need a “revamp of our social safety system,” increased benefits, and changes to policies that make it hard for people to apply.

view more

Nonprofit hopes to quench Wilmington food deserts with juice stand

The News Journal  online


Like other urban areas, many city residents don't have easy access to grocery stores or produce stands. Researchers have found that being able to buy fresh food can reduce violence and make people more invested in their community. But first residents have to buy into the idea. "It's completely possible," said Allison Karpyn, a University of Delaware professor who studies food deserts. "It’s time. It's time for Wilmington."

view more

Articles (5)

Pandemic-Era WIC Participation in Wilmington, Delaware: Participants’ Experiences and Challenges


2023 Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants faced unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic including financial concerns, a national infant formula shortage, and rising food costs. To mitigate these challenges, the United States Department of Agriculture implemented WIC program waivers and flexibilities aiming to simplify program operations (eg, remote appointments and food package substitutions). However, little is known about WIC participants’ perceptions of these changes and their impact on in-store benefit redemption. As such, this study aimed to characterize how pandemic-related events impacted Delaware WIC participants’ shopping experiences and program perceptions.

view more

Meeting Parents' Needs for Education and Preparation following Congenital Heart Disease Diagnosis: Recommendations from a Crowdsourced Study

American Journal of Perinatology

2022 Objective This article characterizes the educational needs of parents following fetal or neonatal congenital heart disease (CHD) diagnosis and generates recommendations for meeting these needs. Study Design Online crowdsourcing methods were used to collect qualitative data from 95 parents of children with CHD regarding their needs for education and preparation following fetal or neonatal diagnosis. Data were analyzed using qualitative methods and themes were organized around the substructure of met and unmet needs.

view more

The Impacts of Social Support and Relationship Characteristics on Commitment to Sobriety Among People in Opioid Use Disorder Recovery

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

2022 Objective: Despite evidence that social support is beneficial for people living with opioid use disorders (OUDs), research has yet to investigate whether social support within certain relationships is more or less effective. The current study examined whether social support, relationship closeness with a disclosure partner, and/or the history of joint substance use between participants and disclosure partners affect commitment to sobriety among people receiving medications for OUD.

view more

Social support access among single caregivers with children on the autism spectrum

Research in Developmental Disabilities

2022 Background Caregivers of children with autism are more likely to experience parenting stress than parents of neurotypical children. Research on parenting stress focuses on partnered caregivers and little is known about the comparative social support experienced by single caregivers. Aim To explore differences in perceived social support between single versus partnered caregivers of adolescent and adult children on the autism spectrum.

view more

WIC Participants’ Perceptions of the Cash-Value Benefit Increase during the COVID-19 Pandemic


2022 Recent changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Cash-Value Benefit (CVB), which provides participants with money to spend on fruits and vegetables, have the potential to reduce disparities in healthy food access and food insecurity that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, few studies have examined how the changes to the CVB allotment that occurred during the pandemic influenced WIC participants’ perceptions of the benefit or their fruit and vegetable purchasing and consumption. To address this gap, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 51 WIC participants in Wilmington, Delaware. Survey measures included demographic questions, the Hunger Vital Sign food insecurity screener, and open-ended questions regarding perceptions of the CVB increase and its influence on participants’ fruit and vegetable purchasing and consumption.

view more

Accomplishments (3)

Nominated, Excellence in Honors Mentoring Award from the University of Delaware, Honors Program (professional)


Ratledge Family Award. Delaware Public Service from the University of Delaware (professional)


Fulbright Scholar Award, Council for International Exchange of Scholars (professional)


Education (2)

University of Pennsylvania: PhD, Policy Research, Evaluation and Measurement 2003

Johns Hopkins University: BA, Public Health 1998

Affiliations (5)

  • American Public Health Association
  • National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR)
  • American Heart Association Policy and Advocacy Board Committee (DE)
  • NIH Review Panel
  • The Delaware IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)

Languages (1)

  • English

Event Appearances (5)

Journeying to the New Norm Reimaging Education, Environmental Sustainability & Public Health In A Post Pandemic Bahamas


Outcomes from an Institution-Wide Community Engagement Framework: Comparing Perspectives Across Student, Faculty, and Community Partners

(2020) IUPUI 2020 Assessment Institute  Virtual

Healthy default beverages in kids’ meals: Evaluating policy implementation and impact in California and Delaware

(2020) APHA's Annual Meeting and Expo  San Francisco, CA

Supporting Parenting during Infant Hospitalization: Recommendations from a Crowdsourced Study

(2020) Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference (SPPAC)  Dallas, TX

Education and Preparation Needs of Parents Following Congenital Heart Disease Diagnosis, Cardiology

(2020) Annual Update on Pediatric and Congenital Cardiovascular Disease  Philadelphia, PA