Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Community and Regional Planning


Community and Regional Planning


Community and Regional Planning; Sustainable Agriculture

First Advisor

Monica Haddad

Second Advisor

Jane Rongerude


Food plays an integral role in not only our health, but also our identity, culture, personal relationships, and the place in which we live. Using a food justice framework, this study investigates what food means to the organizations participating in the Des Moines food system, to a community-based organization located in a racially diverse, low-income neighborhood, and to six high school youth living in that neighborhood. Using a survey, interviews, and photovoice, this Participatory Action Research (PAR) study finds that the meaning of food changes with scale. In the food system network, food is a commodity. For the community-based organization, food is a form of community development. For the youth, food is part of their lived experience that reflects health, care, and identity. I argue that incorporating the various scales and meanings of food in policy implementation and planning ensures healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food for all while supporting environmentally responsible agriculture and the empowerment of local producers and consumers.

Copyright Owner

Morgan Bradley



File Format


File Size

176 pages