Graduation Year


Document Type



M.A.; M.P.H.

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)



Degree Granting Department

Anthropology; Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Roberta Baer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ellen Daley, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Committee Member

Angela Stuesse, Ph.D.


coping strategies, emergency food assistance, food insecurity, hunger, low-income households, poverty


Since 1999, there has been a significant increase in the number of food insecure individuals in the United States. The Great Recession (2007-2009) and slow economic recovery has led to additional increases in rates of food insecurity and the usage of emergency food assistance programs. Thirty qualitative interviews with individuals seeking emergency food assistance at a Tampa Bay food pantry were conducted. Interviews focused on collecting the life experiences of participants, the barriers they face in having food security, their strategies to cope with limited food budgets, and how food insecurity impacts their household's overall health and wellbeing. Recommendations for fulfilling the immediate need for food as well as addressing the larger issues that lead to and perpetuate food insecurity and hunger are presented in this paper. In collaboration with the food pantry, a booklet presenting personal experiences of hunger alongside broad institutional forces affecting food insecurity was disseminated in the community in hopes of increasing awareness of and support for combating this important social issue.