Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy - Forestry



First Advisor

Dr. Pat Stephens Williams

Second Advisor

Dr. Shelby Gull-Laird

Third Advisor

Dr. Ray Darville

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jared Barnes


Food insecurity and access to nutrition-rich food for senior adults receiving food assistance is an ever-growing concern in the United States. For households that lack accessible food, the availability of alternative sources of nutrition such as community gardens could be critically important to maintaining a stable level of food security. The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of using a community garden as a supplemental food assistance tool for congregate meals sites and food pantries. This study encompassed the following three phases: 1) surveying the trends in Shelby County, Texas senior adults receiving food assistance to determine if there were differences between life satisfaction or food security by age or level of education, 2) interviewing food site directors to discern if they face challenges or limitations in storing or providing fresh vegetables to clientele, and 3) reviewing four successful Texas community gardens to assess their annual vegetable yields and community service hours while examining the use of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agents to provide oversight of project and volunteers.

An explanatory sequential methodology which entailed administering a questionnaire to 83 senior adults and interviews with four nutrition site directors was employed. The responses reflected that the senior adults surveyed indicated that they experienced food security issues, and the nutrition site directors had challenges and limitations in providing fresh vegetables to clients. However, the results indicated that there were no significant differences between life satisfaction and food security by age or level of education. Associations between life satisfaction and food security; life satisfaction and have grown a vegetable garden; and life satisfaction and number of times per day vegetables were consumed existed which were determined through analysis of this data.

Future research should continue to be undertaken to identify how community gardens could be sustainable at the state level through Cooperative Extension System oversight, local government support, and volunteerism while addressing the limitations faced by nutrition site directors in providing clients with fresh produce. In addition, future research should also examine how gardens could be used as a low-cost supplemental food assistance tool in providing a more resilient and food-secure system for rural senior adults through the direct integration of food production and food consumption.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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