Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Wilmoth, Joe D.

Committee Member

Phillips, Tommy M.

Committee Member

Peterson, Donna

Committee Member

Adams-Price, Carolyn E.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Human Development and Family Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


The continued growth of the nation’s older adult population will bring many societal challenges. One of these challenges deals with meeting this population’s basic needs. Among the most crucial basic needs in older adulthood is proper nutrition, which is heavily impacted by one’s ability to access adequate amounts of healthy foods. Extensive research has been conducted on low food access among diverse populations, but opportunities remain to expand upon this research by concentrating on the food access challenges facing the older adult population. The current study had a twoold purpose. First, this study aimed to serve a basic academic purpose by integrating key elements of theories related to environmental gerontology and ecological models of aging and human development to explain the relationship between summary-level conditions and the food environments of older adults, particularly as they were related to food access in nonmetropolitan counties. Second, this study aimed to serve an applied-evaluative purpose by utilizing the results of the quantitative analysis to serve as an initial needs assessment that identified the characteristics of nonmetropolitan counties that were associated with higher levels of senior low food access. It was argued that the ability to identify counties facing high levels of senior low food access would aid in the development of interventions to help address this social problem. To this end, this study’s concluding sections proposed an initial logic model, which outlined an intervention designed to address low food access among older adults residing in nonmetropolitan counties. Support was found for several of the research hypotheses, with results indicating that a county’s proportion of minority residents and status as a high outmigration county were the two strongest predictors of a county’s status as a senior low food access county. Based on these results, an intervention was proposed that concentrated on educating older adults on the importance of nutrition in older age and facilitating more convenient access to food outlets for older adults in nonmetropolitan counties. Practical implications for this study and suggestions for future research related to this topic also were discussed.



low food access||seniors