Date of Award

Summer 8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Nutrition and Food Systems

Committee Chair

Dr. Kathleen Yadrick

Committee Chair Department

Nutrition and Food Systems

Committee Member 2

Dr. Carol Connell

Committee Member 2 Department

Nutrition and Food Systems

Committee Member 3

Dr. Denise Brown

Committee Member 3 Department

Nutrition and Food Systems

Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Abstract

Food insecurity has been associated with compromised health and wellness. Current literature regarding coping strategies and practices employed by the food insecure often describes food management and acquisition practices, and/or the riskiness of these practices. Material and personal resources such as income, time, self-efficacy, and social support have been identified as predictors or influencers of food security status. In this study, the Conservation of Resources theory was used to conceptualize resources and resource loss as they relate to food practices and food security. It was hypothesized that the level of resources would influence food security status and the adaptive food practices employed to mitigate food insecurity. It was also hypothesized that the loss of resources would be associated with adaptive food practices and worsening food insecurity.

A descriptive, correlational design was utilized with cross-sectional data to test the theorized model. A single survey instrument was developed by combining previously validated instruments. Path analysis was used to determine model consistency with sample data. Exploratory factor analysis identified the underlying structure of the food management and acquisition practices.

Findings included significant direct relationships of several resource variables, with adaptive food practices and food security survey (FSS) scores. Resource loss was positively associated with adaptive food practices; however, it was not directly associated with FSS scores. Thus, resource loss appeared to influence food security through adaptive food practices. A three factor solution was identified for food management practices and a four factor solution was found for the food acquisition practice category. Management factors included restricting the food supply, obtaining food opportunistically, and strategizing food preparation and food choices. Acquisition factors included conserving money for food, strategizing food shopping, relying on external sources of support, and using lower food cost sources.

This study contributes to the literature as it investigated the presence and loss of resources and adaptive food practices simultaneously to broaden the understanding of their influence on food security. Future research is needed to determine if the conceptualized model remains consistent when applied to a broader, more diverse population.

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