Date of Completion


Embargo Period



food security, food insecurity, measurement, gender, qualitative, Discourse Analysis, poverty, hunger

Major Advisor

Amy Mobley, PhD, RD

Associate Advisor

Kari Adamsons, PhD

Associate Advisor

Amy Gorin, PhD

Associate Advisor

Nancy Rodriguez, PhD, RD

Associate Advisor

Marlene Schwartz, PhD

Field of Study

Nutritional Science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Food insecurity, defined as the inability to access sufficient food for an active, healthy life, affects 14.3 percent of United States. Food Security (FS) has been measured annually using the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Household Food Security Module (HFSM) since the 1990s; however, responses to this self-report measure may vary by household member. Thus, this study aims to 1) determine how gender is related to differences in interpretation and report of FS using the HFSM; 2) determine if gender is related to interpretation of terms relevant to FS measurement, and; 3) pilot test a qualitative technique novel to the field of nutrition. Twenty-five pairs of low-income, food-insecure parents of 2.5-10 year-olds were recruited to participate in one-on-one interviews to assess FS, interpretation of the USDA’s 18-item HFSM, and complete related questionnaires. Intraclass correlations and regressions were conducted to compare the responses of each dyad. Mothers’ and fathers’ report of FS was significantly related (B=.40, p=.02), some items had poor interrater reliability between parents. Further, mothers’ report of coping strategies was significantly associated with report of household food inventory (B=0.865, p=0.03). Qualitative analysis revealed that gender was related to interpretation of key terms relevant to FS measurement including “household,” “balanced meal,” and “worry.” Discourse Analysis allowed researchers to garner new understanding about gender’s influence on communication patterns. Overall, this research identifies potential shortcomings of the HFSM such as underestimating the efficacy of the national safety net, fathers struggling to feed their families and, related insufficient resources allocated to underserved families.