Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Food and Nutrition Services


Nutrition and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

David Holben

Second Advisor

Anne Bomba

Third Advisor

Georgianna Mann

Relational Format



Adults living in food insecure households consume fewer fruits and vegetables than adults living in food secure households (Hanson & Connor, 2014). The purpose of this study was to examine differences in fruit and vegetable behaviors (intakes; perceptions) of parents of elementary school children by food security status (food secure compared to food insecure; fully food secure compared to not fully food secure) in rural, Appalachian Mississippi. A cross-sectional survey of parents (n=1144) recruited from three elementary schools in rural, Appalachian Mississippi utilized validated measures of produce behaviors: 1) fruit, vegetable, and total produce intakes; 2) perceived benefits of barriers to, and control of produce intake; 3) stage of readiness to change fruit and vegetable intakes; and 4) 7-item fruit and vegetable scale score (a measure of produce intake frequency and variety). Differences between food security groups for the measures were assessed using a series of two-tailed independent samples t-tests. Overall, 455 surveys were returned (40%), provided from individual response rates of 168 surveys (46%), 140 surveys (37%), and 147 surveys (37%). Results shothat participants among the three schools were 34 ± 8 years, primarily Caucasian (n=258/452, 57%), female (n=416/450, 92%), living in food secure households (n=367/455, 81%), and low-income areas (n=318/328, 97%). Perceived control (p=.006), perceived barriers (p=.017), the 7-item fruit and vegetable scale score (p=.022), and fruit intake (p=.003) were significantly greater among those in fully food secure households compared to those in food insecure households. Perceived control (p=.001), perceived barriers (p<.001), stage of readiness for fruit intake (p<.001), stage of readiness for vegetable intake (p=.032), the 7-item fruit/vegetable scale score (p<.001), fruit (p<.001) and total produce (p=.001) intakes were significantly greater among those living in fully food secure households, compared to those in not fully food secure households. No other measures differed between groups (p>.05). Overall, food insecurity (food insecure; not fully food secure) was associated with decreased produce intakes (fruit, vegetable, total) and behaviors (perceptions; lower 7-item fruit and vegetables scale scores) compared to the more food secure counterparts (food secure; fully food secure). Nutrition interventions that address food insecurity and produce intake is warranted.


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