Graduation Date

Fall 2018

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Applied Anthropology

Committee Chair Name

Rebecca Robertson

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Marissa Ramsier

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Mary Scoggin

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Name

May Patino

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Food banks are antithetical to the food justice movement because they usually rely on government commodity surplus to alleviate need and promote notions of dependence through the charity model. This research examines Food for People, the only food bank in Humboldt County, within the context of local food security and patron perception using ethnographic observation, surveys, literature review, and interviews to generate data that would allow the food bank to fulfill its mission of ending hunger. Through ethnographic approaches, this thesis focuses on food security, what affects perception and actual food security in the context of food justice and food sovereignty, and the power dynamics discovered in the food bank. Questions to the study include: Does the food bank empower its patrons and does it fit under the food justice model? What are the patrons’ perception of their food security, and what are their attitudes and beliefs about their shopping locations? This ethnography critically examines the food banking system and attempts to place Food for People within the spectrum of food justice/sovereignty and dependence. To contribute to the food bank’s mission of ending hunger, this research suggests the organization could create an environment more conducive to self-empowerment by an integration of horizontal power structures, and addressing patron needs that affect food security beyond the immediate distribution of food.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location