Livelihood strategies of food-insecure poor, female-headed families in rural Alabama

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Psychological reports

Publication Date


Date Added



Previous studies suggest that households headed by single women in general, and particularly those by African-American females, are at greater risk for food insecurity and hunger. However, questions remain about how single mothers cope with food insecurity. This study examined how food-insecure, poor single mothers get food for themselves and their children. 100 African-American single mothers from rural Alabama were recruited and interviewed about their livelihood strategies up to two times during a 1-yr. period. The findings show that most of the mothers used numerous strategies to make sure that there was an adequate amount of food for the family. These strategies included work, government assistance such as food stamps, cash assistance from relatives and friends, food from food banks and churches, cohabiting, coresiding with a friend or relative, eating at a Senior Meal Program, and eating less. Psychological aspects of food insecurity included feeling depressed, feeling sad, feeling lonely, having trouble sleeping, and having trouble concentrating. These results suggest that preventive measures to reduce food insecurity among single mothers should remain a priority, and referrals to psychological counseling might help assist them in coping during this difficult time in their lives.


Public Health


SAGE Publications Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA