Millions of households are suffering from food insecurity within the United States. Research shows that poverty level, education achievement, race or ethnicity, family structure, and geographical location make certain groups economically vulnerable to food insecurity, specifically low income communities. These areas experience availability, accessibility, and affordability barriers to fresh and nutritious produce. Community food and nutrition programs have developed over the years to address these barriers impacting hunger and food insecurity through emergency relief programs, child nutrition programs, government assistance programs, and locally grown food programs.
Meadville, Pennsylvania is one of the many areas in the United States experiencing the implications of food insecurity. Over the years, Meadville has created programs to address hungry and food insecurity, however, these programs still experience affordability, accessibility, and nutritional barriers. Therefore, Meadville is currently in the process of developing a mobile farmer’s market that is designed to bring to affordable and nutritious produce to different areas of the community.
Gaining an understanding of a community’s concerns, needs, and experiences is a critical component of creating sustainable and effective community development initiatives. Therefore, this project attempts to understand the experiences and perceptions of residents who shopped at the pilot mobile market that took place at an independent senior living home in Meadville, PA from August 24, 2016 and September 28, 2016. The results from this cross-sectional epidemiological study found that customers were willing to pay more for produce, purchased unfamiliar produce, and the amount willing to spend match the availability of SNAP benefits. This senior thesis explores the complexity of food insecurity within low income communities, evaluates the benefits and disadvantages associated with community development initiatives to overcome food insecurity barriers, and analyzes the currently programs within Meadville, PA in hopes of developing sustainable food security programs in Meadville, Pennsylvania.