Food insecurity in rural settings is complex and not fully understood, especially from the perspective of low-income and Black residents. The goal of this study was to use qualitative methods to better understand experiences with food access and perceptions of the food environment among low-income, predominately Black rural Louisiana residents in the United States. Data were collected from focus group discussions (FGD) and focus group intake forms. Study participants were all rural residents eligible to receive at least one nutrition assistance program. FGD questions focused on perceptions of the food environment, with an emphasis on food access. Participants (n = 44) were predominately Black and female. Over half (n = 25) reported running out of food before the end of the month. Major themes included: store choice, outshopping, methods of acquiring foods other than the grocery store, and food insecurity. Concerns around price, quality, and transportation emerged as factors negatively impacting food security. Understanding residents' perceptions and experiences is necessary to inform contextually appropriate and feasible policy and practice interventions that address the physical environment and social conditions that shape the broader physical food environment in order to achieve equitable food access and food security.
Keywords: food environment; food insecurity; low-income; rural.