Food insecurity rates continue to rise in the United States, which creates a greater disparity between those who are food secure and those who are food insecure. Existing literature indicates that such a disparity is affected directly and indirectly through cultural, socioeconomic, and geographic factors.

The objectives of this project were designed to place culture as a central construct for understanding food insecurity and security. The objectives include (1) identifying common attitudes, beliefs, values, and patterns of participants’ food culture, whether food insecure or secure; (2) gaining a deeper understanding of the unique cultures that exist within food secure and food insecure audiences; and (3) formulating guiding questions for future research in the area of food culture and food insecurity. Using methods in ethnography and grounded theory, the collective voices of each audience were captured and observed with the purpose of understanding and differentiating the various cultures at play.

The interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed, resulting in three themes emerging from the data. These themes indicate that the food insecure often encounter problems pertaining to food acquisition that arise from geographic situations and personal habits. The project highlighted how the food secure and the food insecure share similar challenges, but how they cope with the challenges in different ways.