Date of Award

Fall 12-8-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



Committee Chair

Holly Foster

Committee Chair School



The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify which student groups Black students perceive as needing food assistance, to explore how Black students’ perceptions of students in need impacts their decision to utilize the on-campus food pantry at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), and to identify the circumstances that influence Black students’ self-categorization. Nine, Black-identified students enrolled at CSUDH participated in semi-structured interviews that were transcribed and coded using a grounded theory approach. Results of the study revealed that Black students generally perceived low-income students, unemployed or overemployed students, students experiencing food insecurity, and students with non-traditional housing or experiencing homelessness as needing food assistance and being users of the campus’s food pantry. Additionally, Black students generally perceived those needing food assistance as individuals experiencing financial hardships due to a lack of or limited sources of income. Finally, qualitative data revealed that financial circumstances and food security status were two main factors that influenced Black students’ self-categorization as users or non-users of the campus’s food pantry. Results of this study emphasize the need to disassociate the campus’s food pantry from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and advertise the pantry under a different name and as a standalone resource. Implications also include launching a new marketing campaign that highlights the diversity of campus food pantry users to change the perception that the campus’s food pantry is only for impoverished students in dire need of food.