We used focus groups to learn the range of issues threatening food security of low income residents in our community. Five major themes emerged from the discussions: literacy, money, time, mental health and self-esteem, suggesting several approaches that could help ensure food security: 1) education, 2) sharing of resources, 3) coalition building, and 4) advocacy. Education programs have to be practical, allowing for demonstrations and hands-on learning while emphasizing skill building and problem solving. Incorporating a social aspect into learning may compensate for the social isolation and would capitalize on the impressive mutual support we witnessed. Strategies based on self-help and peer assistance may counteract low self-esteem and overcome suspicion of health professionals. A community-wide effort is needed to address the factors contributing to food insecurity. We envision the formation of a coalition of professionals, agencies, and low income people to develop a comprehensive strategy for achieving food security.