"It's Always a Struggle:" Maternal Negotiations of Food Vulnerability in San Antonio's Urban Mexican American Households




Benavidez, Victoria A.

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Food security in the United States is precarious in low-income, densely urban neighborhoods. Residents of food insecure communities consciously and actively develop strategies to act and respond to inconsistencies of structurally built and historically based restrictions. Recent literature has shown that eating and shopping patterns reflect social class patterns, which in time, influence health. Food practices, including shopping patterns, operate as a form of habitus, or an embodied arrangement of social practices. In this thesis, I document Mexican American maternal narratives to provide healthy food for children in densely urban, food insecure neighborhoods. Their strategies and actions emerge in specific shopping, production and consumption patterns to combat food insecure environments. In effect, these maternal strategies can be seen as distinct forms of resistance to unequal distribution of quality, affordable food. Acts of eating and shopping for food encompass a system of values and rules. Maternal narratives function both as explanation and as classification of the social and symbolic world in which the mothers see themselves inhabiting.


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food security, health disparities, Mexican American, nutrition, San Antonio, urban health