Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Steven Garsaky


As the United States population ages and their healthcare needs grow it is necessary to examine health-related issues experienced by this population. Food insecurity is one such issue impacting not only older adults but the general population as well. Working to better understand determinants of food insecurity and what factors may protect against it may help in the fight against it.

Cross-sectional data from a survey studying food pantry clients living in four Iowa counties were used to (1) explore what household characteristics may increase the likelihood of experiencing food insecurity and (2) identify what resources may protect against it. The sample was divided into two age groups, those younger than age sixty and those age sixty and older, allowing for a deeper understanding of how food security may differ between age groups. Binary logistic regression was performed to assess the relationship between the dependent variable, household food security status, and multiple independent variables including health status, income, home ownership, employment, employment of household members, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation, housing assistance participation, and food pantry clients. Control variables included in the regression analysis were total number of household members, and the age, gender, and education of the respondent.

Hypotheses were partially confirmed. Independent variables significantly related to the household's food security status included the health status of the respondent, household income, SNAP participation, food pantry participation, receiving housing assistance, and the gender and age of the respondent. Respondent health status was the only independent variable significant for both age groups potentially indicating the costs of meeting one's health care needs may impact meeting the household's food needs regardless of the age of the household head (i.e., the survey respondent). It should be noted that it is possible that other relationships between the independent variables and food security existed; however, they occurred to such a small degree that they were not captured in the regression results. Despite limitations such as the sample being drawn through convenience sampling and generally lacking representativeness, these findings do offer guidance for future research.


Copyright Owner

Kristin Marie Towers



Date Available


File Format


File Size

85 pages