Date of Conferral





Public Health


Clarence Schumaker


This study was an investigation of the access problem to fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables and how limited access influenced the beliefs and opinions of residents of a food desert as designated by United States Department of Agriculture. Many researchers have documented that price, availability, and transportation are barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption, particularly among low-income individuals. Researchers in other studies have concluded that these barriers are further exacerbated by an individual's distance from a supermarket or grocery store. However, much less information is available regarding the beliefs and opinions about life in a food desert and how these factors affect food-shopping. Accordingly, this study used the socioecological model framework to explore the beliefs and opinions of the low-income residents who lived in a food desert. Qualitative data were collected from semistructured interviews with 14 low-income participants to learn their beliefs and opinions about access to fresh produce. The qualitative data were transcribed and analyzed, using ATLAS.ti software, to generate themes. Results showed that the participants felt fresh fruits and vegetables were available, but they were not always able to purchase them because of cost. Respondents had an awareness of how their budgets influenced food choices and shopping behaviors as well as how the mode of transportation and mileage from a grocery store impacted food shopping behaviors. The implications for positive social change include creating additional options for food access, such as farmers' markets, community gardens, mobile food trucks, and lowered prices (or subsidies).