Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Judith A. Ponticell, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joyce G.Haines, Ph.D.


elementary schools, health services, nutrition education


Food insecure households are described as not having enough money or other resources to meet certain needs of all of their family members at some point during the year. Milam and Towns (2014) observed, “Child hunger exists in every county in every state” (p. 2). The hunger gap has been found to contribute to the lower academic achievement of students of color, particularly those from low-socioeconomic status (Jyoti, Frongillo, & Jones, 2005).

The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of food insecurity and poor nutrition on student learning and to review district responses, particularly in elementary schools in low-income communities. This study is a multiple program analysis using archival documents, website and electronic media analysis of three school districts, one district in Texas and two districts in Florida.

Findings of the study showed a complex relationship among three services provided by the districts: (1) nutrition environment and services; (2) health services; and (3) counseling, psychological and social services. In addition, districts’ knowledge of and use of federal and state policies to support nutrition education, a health in school nutrition environment, and community support and involvement were important to the array of services that districts provided. Central to addressing the complexity of needs and services that are needed requires a comprehensive food action plan rather than scattered, disconnected singular services.