Pass the Gravy: An Ethnographic Study on Food Insecurity During the U.S. Fall and Winter Holiday Season




Hoelscher, Kyleigh

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During the fall and winter holidays in the U.S., groups typically gather for a meal, granting them a sense of warmth and belonging. But, what if there were no food to begin with? In Hays County, Texas, one out of every seven people experiences food insecurity year-round, including the holidays that generally require people to spend and eat in excess. The societal pressure to provide an expensive feast along with presents during this season generally places an equally emotional and financial burden on the household. I investigate how the food insecure population of Hays County, Texas combats food insecurity during the holidays, negotiates holiday traditions, and manages other difficulties associated with the holiday season. It accomplishes this through the implementation of ethnographic methods consisting of nine qualitative interviews and demographic surveys from the population who seeks assistance from Hays Count Food Bank. Two central questions guiding the research are: what holiday traditions do participants engage in and value?, and how does being food insecure affect their experiences with these holiday traditions? My research aims to uncover specific issues from in-depth accounts of food insecure households in order to fill a gap in the social scientific literature, inform policy in Texas, and improve services provided by the Hays County Food Bank. This research was funded by the Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Texas State University.



food insecurity, holidays, Texas, poverty, Hays County, United States, hunger, Anthropology, Honors College


Hoelscher, K. (2018). Pass the gravy: An ethnographic study on food insecurity during the U.S. fall and winter holiday season (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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