Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Clinical Dietetics (M.S.)

Degree Program

Allied Health Sciences

First Advisor

Jody L Vogelzang, PhD

Second Advisor

Lara Jaskiewicz, PhD

Third Advisor

Heather Wallace, PhD

Academic Year



Background: The social determinants of health and health equity are influenced by access, environment, and socioeconomic status (SES). Health inequities are preventable and can be avoided with systemic policy change surrounding the distribution of wealth and resources. Few studies have researched the differences in different income levels and the influence income has on food shopping behaviors.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in food shopping behaviors between high-income and low-income shoppers living in the same zip code. Subjects Sixty-eight individuals who live in the 49341 zip code which represents a small city in Kent County, Michigan.

Methods: Participants were recruited in collaboration with North Kent Connect and the Rockford Farmer’s Market. The participant survey contained demographic and food security questions. The survey allowed for participants to voluntarily enter their email address if they wished to attend a virtual interview for an in-depth discussion on food shopping behaviors. The surveys were analyzed using SPSS 25, two personal interviews, one for each income group were conducted via Zoom, transcribed, and hand-coded using thematic analysis.

Results: The main themes from this qualitative study of a low and high-income participant in the 49341 zip code were that high-income food shopping behaviors were influenced by (1) types of foods needed, (2) household determinants of food value, (3) location and time of shopping, and (4) food safety habits. The low income shopper’s food behaviors were influenced by (1) type of store, (2) household determinants of food quality, (3) location and time of shopping, and (4) influence of children on shopping.

Conclusion: There were differences and commonalities found in both the high and low-income participants surrounding their food shopping behaviors. The shoppers differed on dietary needs, meal planning, type of store shopped at, nutritional quality of foods but were fairly similar on COVID-19 impact, child influence, perception of health, and impulse purchases. More research is needed to expand on these findings including increasing sample size and racial and socioeconomic diversity.