Meaning and management of food security among rural elders

Sara A. Quandt, Thomas A. Arcury, Juliana McDonald, Ronny A. Bell, Mara Z. Vitolins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. This study uses fixed response and textual data obtained through in-depth interviews with adults 70 years and older from a multiethnic population in rural North Carolina to examine the incidence of food insecurity and how older adults experience food insecurity and maintain food security. We interviewed 145 elders up to five times over the course of 1 year. Responses to standard food insecurity questions indicate that only 12% of older adults experience food insecurity. However, analysis of textual data reveals common themes concerning food insecurity that suggest that these questions may underestimate the number of rural elders who are food insecure and not tap the potential vulnerability of others who are dependent on precarious nutritional self-management strategies to meet their needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-376
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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