Rural Food Insecurity: A Longitudinal Analysis of Low-Income Rural Households with Children in the South

Sarah Bowen , North Carolina State University
Sinikka Elliott, University of British Columbia
Annie Hardison-Moody , North Carolina State University
Publication Date:
May 2022
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

Researchers have noted large spatial variations in rates of food insecurity. But little research exists on why this is so and the impacts it has on rural families. Drawing on a mixed-methods longitudinal study with 124 poor and working-class households in North Carolina, we analyze the processes that shape lower-income rural families’ access to food. We trace the narratives of three families whose stories are emblematic of themes from the larger data set to illumine how space and context influence families’ experiences across the life course. As the caregivers in our study navigated how to feed their families, living in a rural area shaped the resources and often precarious forms of support that they drew on from their social networks, local communities, and the state.


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