This paper is a mixed-method, in-depth study of how poor adults in a rural Pennsylvania community experience their environment as a food desert. Open-ended interviews and questionnaires were used to determine food purchasing and consumption practices as well as some of the health issues that individuals experienced. The open-ended format allowed participants to identify multiple factors influencing food access—transportation, inadequate social service information and benefits, terrain, inadequate education about food and nutrition, and cost. The study used an ecological framework to analyze the complex interaction of multiple systems influencing participants’ access to healthy food. Though our sample was small (11 participants), the narratives provided deeper understanding of the realities confronting poor rural adults in their quest for healthy diets. The paper considers implications for health and overall quality of life of the rural poor and suggests that larger-scale, in-depth studies are needed to more fully understand their predicament and craft better policies to address them.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Social Psychology
- Cultural Studies