Investigation of the Food Choice, Promoters and Barriers to Food Access Issues, and Food Insecurity Among Low-Income, Free-Living Minnesotan Seniors

Megan Oemichen, Chery Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective: Investigate food choice, food access, and food insecurity among seniors. Methods: Eight focus groups were conducted in 2 counties with high and low Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation rates. A total of 62 seniors (aged ≥ 60 years) were recruited and each attended 1 focus group at a community center. The sample was 79% female and most were Caucasian (91%), similar to state demographics. The focus group themes of how seniors make food choices and access food, and food insecurity perceptions among this population were identified based on discussion commonalities. For quantitative data, P < .05 was significant. Results: Five themes emerged: (1) former experiences affecting eating behaviors; (2) financial and food security driving use of food assistance programs; (3) food access strategies: restaurants, retail markets, and alternative sources; (4) physical changes associated with aging influencing food access and intake; and (5) social influences that play a role in decision making. Conclusions and Implications: Both SNAP and congregate dining offer food assistance to seniors, but SNAP use was considered unacceptable by some seniors living in county 1 because of the negative stigma attached to the program or because they lacked program knowledge about income criteria. More effort needs to be made to educate seniors about SNAP. It is important to gain insight into how food insecurity affects their food choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-404.e1
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank all of the participants for taking the time to share their opinions. Furthermore, the authors acknowledge Susan Bill, Nancy Christianson, Denise Leonhardt, and Denise Loesch for their instrumental role in assisting with recruitment. This study was funded by Minnesota Agricultural Experiment (grant 18-102 MAES ) and is part of the USDA 's NE 1439 Multistate Projects.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.


  • Food access
  • Food choice
  • Food security
  • Health
  • Seniors


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