Survey data from a USDA-funded multi-state longitudinal project revealed a paradox where rural low-income families from states considered prosperous were persistently more food insecure than similar families from less prosperous states. An examination of quantitative and qualitative data found that families in the food insecure states were more likely to experience greater material hardship and incur greater housing costs than families in the food secure states. Families in the food insecure states, however, did not have lower per capita median incomes or lower life satisfaction than those in the food secure states. A wide range of strategies to cope with food insecurity reported by families in both food insecure and food secure states was examined using the Family Ecological Systems Theory. Families in the food insecure states used several risky consumption reduction strategies such as curbing their appetite and using triage. Families in the food secure states, on the other hand, employed positive techniques involving their human capital.