Household food insecurity among Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat
Household food insecurity is a significant problem in Canada. According to recent numbers, in 2012, 4 million people experienced some level of food insecurity during the previous 12 months. Food insecurity contributes to poor health, lower educational outcomes and family stress; thus, understanding the factors associated with food insecurity is important.
Existing research has shown that food insecurity is higher among the Aboriginal population than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. This paper will examine the prevalence of food insecurity among Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat, the Canadian Inuit Homeland. In this case, the food security challenges faced by Inuit are unique, especially for those living in remote and isolated communities.
According to data from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS), more than half (53%) of Inuit aged 15 and over in Inuit Nunangat lived in households that experienced food insecurity. In addition, results also showed that more than a quarter (27%) of Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat reported that in the previous 12 months they had personally been hungry because they could not afford enough food.
This paper will use data from the 2012 APS to examine the prevalence and factors associated with food insecurity among Inuit in Inuit Nunangat in a multivariate model. In addition, this paper will also examine some of the health consequences of food insecurity among the Inuit population such as self-rated health and chronic conditions. Food insecurity is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon, and understanding the determinants of food insecurity can provide information to create long-term solutions.
“Towards a Northern Food Strategy” – Sharing Recommendations from the Yukon Food Security Roundtable, May 18th-19th, 2016 [PDF slides]
Butler Walker J, Kassi N, Friendship K, Pratt M
Food insecurity in Canada’s North is increasing at epidemic proportions. In May 2016, AICBR hosted the Yukon Food Security Roundtable in Whitehorse. This was an opportunity to bring people together across various sectors in Yukon and beyond to gather multiple perspectives, experiences and ideas on the topic of food security. The Roundtable welcomed 79 delegates from across the territory, including representation from 16 communities in Yukon and Northern BC, Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments (municipal, territorial and federal), non-government organizations, academics, the private sector, food producers, and citizens. The Roundtable focused on (1) building a common understanding of Yukon food systems and food security and (2) identifying actionable outcomes and priorities for advancing a more inclusive food-secure Yukon.
This presentation will share outcomes from Yukon Food Security Roundtable, including a vision statement and 15 priorities and values for ensuring the North can provide food for the North developed out of these discussions. These outcomes will feed into a pan-Northern Food Summit in Spring 2017, which will contribute to the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-foods’ emerging National Food Policy. The Northern Food Summit is currently being planned by AICBR, Food Secure Canada, among other partners, and will bring together key stakeholders from across the North to review regional strategies, the evidence base, and best practices, in order to provide a framework for developing a joint Northern Food Strategy.
Food insecurity and social capital in the Canadian North
Food insecurity, or the lack of sufficient and consistent access to safe and nutritious food due to financial difficulties, is a growing concern in the Canadian North. Studies have shown that social capital – an individual’s sense of trust, reciprocity, and general embededness within their community—can have positive effects on several health-related outcomes, including food insecurity. With its historical culture of food-sharing and mutual support among Aboriginal people, the Canadian North presents a rich backdrop upon which to examine the association between social capital and hunger. This study investigated the relationship between food insecurity and social capital in Yukon, The Northwest Territories, and Nunavut using data from the 2011-2012 Canadian Community Health Survey. Analyses performed include descriptive statistics and logistic regression with separate models based on income level and Aboriginal status. Consistent with previous reports, this study found Aboriginal households much more likely (30%) to experience food insecurity than non-Aboriginal households (6%). Logistic regression analysis revealed that among Aboriginal households with high income, those reporting ‘medium’ or ‘low’ levels of social capital were 1.92 and 3.35 times more likely, respectively, to be food insecure than those with ‘high’ levels of social capital. The impact of social capital was not significant for non-Aboriginal households and Aboriginal households with low income. Given the topical importance of food shortages in the Canadian North, further research is needed to address the issue of food insecurity in this vulnerable region. Social capital should be increasingly considered as a possible mitigating force in decreasing hunger.
The Nuluaq Project – Mapping Inuit Community-Based Food Security Initiatives
Inuit Food Security Working Group
Food insecurity is a critical issue for Inuit throughout Canada. In Inuit Nunangat, the four Inuit regions of Canada, research has found that upwards of 68.8% adults and 69.6% of preschoolers reside in food insecure households. This is six times higher than the Canadian national average.
There are many community-based initiatives that are playing a critical role to improve Inuit food insecurity. These include school food programs, community freezers, food banks, community kitchens and many more. The Nuluaq Project was developed by the Inuit Food Security Working Group to highlight and promote the work of these important community-based initiatives; facilitate partnerships and improve coordination between initiatives; bring attention to the food insecurity situation in Inuit communities; and help guide decisions and inform policy work in the area.
This project features the first online interactive mapping tool of Inuit community-based food security initiatives. Initiatives submit information directly to be posted on the map. Visitors to the site can explore the location of initiatives, learn detailed project information and make connections with initiative representatives. Complimentary content is also available on the website, including information on Inuit food security, important resources and funding opportunities.
Domesticating Food Security: Tensions between Canada’s Interior and International Food Policy Paradigms
Yordy, C., Adekunle, B.
There remain marked differences in the discourse and policy on food security in Canada when compared with the international sphere. Whereas, in international fora, the first Sustainable Development Goal on “zero hunger” calls for a greater emphasis on smallholder agriculture, Canada’s own efforts to reduce food insecurity have a mixed agenda as a net-exporter of food. This presentation observes the trends and issues of Canadian internal food security policy over the past 15 years. In a contemporary analysis of food policies and publications, it highlights differences between consumption- and production-based strategies in this place we call Canada, with particular attention to Northern and remote communities. It remains unclear which of the pillars of food security have been most dominant in Canadian discourse. This study provides content analysis of Provincial and Territorial media on Canada’s food security policy, including web material of major food and agricultural organizations. The study then describes the policy influence of various stakeholders, and especially first peoples, including Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami among Aboriginal, First Nations and Inuit groups. These interests are juxtaposed with prominent lobby groups and NGOs, such as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and National Farmers Union. Though it appears that food policy is often defined quite differently in Canada than in international settings, there is no time like the present to understand domestic food security and points of intersection with UN development goals.
Nutrition therapy is the cornerstone of diabetes management, yet those living with diabetes have a higher than average prevalence of being food insecure. Our work explores the feasibility and acceptability of implementing a food insecurity screening initiative within a diabetes care setting. Data was collected through in-depth qualitative interviews with clients and care providers. Findings demonstrate that such an initiative is acceptable and feasible. Clients are willing to share their experiences of food insecurity, despite acknowledging the sensitivity of this topic. Screening elicits pertinent information and context that impact one’s ability to self-manage their diabetes and the coping strategies used to deal with food insecurity. This information can direct care providers to tailor diabetes care that is more suitable for food insecure clients. Dietitians are ideal leaders when it comes to championing the implementation of food insecurity screening in practice, as it fits naturally into their role. However, all providers involved in diabetes care should be aware of their clients’ struggles with food insecurity. Investing time in relationship building, selecting an appropriate time to screen, and being prepared to listen and respond to clients’ needs and concerns can strengthen rapport, which is greatly appreciated by clients. Providing care providers with a standardized and respectful method of assessing food insecurity can better inform and equip care providers to support clients in diabetes self-management. Further research is needed to assess implementation with different settings and care providers, and to determine how screening can impact health outcomes for clients living with diabetes.
The Impact of Household Food Insecurity on the Sex-Gap in Six Adverse Mental Health Outcomes in Canadian Adults
Jessiman-Perreault G, McIntyre L
Objective: Gender is one of the most pervasive social determinants of health for a wide spectrum of mental health conditions, which for most conditions, is reported significantly more often in women. Food insecurity status is also related to adverse mental health conditions, which are greater with higher food insecurity severity. Gender and food insecurity have rarely been examined with respect to mental health when they co-occur. In this study, we examine the difference between the prevalence in women versus men (i.e., sex gap) in mental health outcomes among persons reporting food insecurity.
Methods: Using a pooled sample of the Canadian Community Health Survey (2006-2012) we used STATA statistical software to test whether level of food insecurity in adults (18-64 years) blunts, neutralizes or exacerbates the sex gap in six mental health outcomes ranging from self-reported mental health to depressive thoughts in the past month.
Results: Prior to the inclusion of food insecurity status, the sex gap in five of six mental health outcomes was pronounced. After its inclusion, there were no statistically significant sex differences in the six mental health outcomes.
Conclusion: Food insecurity stress appears to overwhelm the commonly observed male buffering capacity to withstand either reporting mental health problems or actually succumbing to them as indicated by physician diagnosis.
Implications: Food insecurity is a modifiable stressor in the interplay of gender and mental health. Public health advocacy for structural poverty alleviation is needed to reduce the impact of this stressor on the health of vulnerable men and women.
Food insecurity among older adults: a systematic literature review
Leroux J, Cox J, Rosenberg M.
Background: Food insecurity is under-studied in older populations. In Canada, older people are least likely than any other age group to experience food insecurity and this is attributable to old age benefits and income supports. However, changing population-level conditions will likely increase incidence and prevalence into the future: including, an aging population, increasing food prices and costs of living, and the hollowing out of social policies. A paucity of research warranted a systematic literature review to investigate the current state of the literature.
Methods: Literature was gathered from a selection of health sciences and social sciences databases. Eligibility criteria included studies that prominently focused on food insecurity among community-dwelling older adults. Data abstraction included carefully reviewing and characterizing the empirical, methodological and conceptual contributions of each study.
Results: 37 studies were included from an initial catchment of 2041 titles. Most studies were found to offer quantitative empirical evidence of the predictors and determinants of food insecurity among older adults. There were 6 studies that offered methodological insights into the measurement of food insecurity among older adults. Few studies made explicit conceptual or theoretical contributions to this body of literature. Close reading of the rationale and implications for each study revealed more subtle divisions in orientations towards aging research overall.
Conclusion: Moving forward, this area of research will need to give greater attention to the unique vulnerabilities of older adults, attend to the theoretical and methodological gaps, and clarify the intent of investigations beyond increasing participation in food assistance programs.
Injection drug use and depressive symptoms are associated with food insecurity in HIV-hepatitis C virus co-infected individuals in Canada [PDF slides] [Contact]
McLinden T, Moodie EEM, Hamelin A-M, Wusiman A, Khosrow-Khavar F, Conway B, Hull M, Cooper C, Paradis G, Gill J, Rourke SB, Klein MB, Cox J
Background: Food insecurity (FI) is associated with sub-optimal HIV treatment adherence and adverse health outcomes. FI is common in HIV-HCV co-infected populations where injection drug use (IDU) and depressive symptoms may be risk factors for FI. We examined the relationship between IDU, depressive symptoms, and FI in the Canadian Co-infection Cohort.
Methods: We used longitudinal data collected biannually (N=725: 17 centres across 6 provinces, 2012-2015). IDU in the past month (occasional injection [<1 day/week] or frequent injection [>=1 day(s)/week]) and depressive symptoms in the past week (CES-D-10 score >=10) were self-reported. FI (food secure vs. marginal, moderate, or severe FI) was measured using Health Canada’s Household Food Security Survey Module. To account for repeated measures, generalized estimating equations were used to estimate the effects of IDU and depressive symptoms on binary FI in separate multivariate logistic regression models. Confounders of each relationship were selected a priori and independent variables were lagged to ensure temporality.
Results: Among 725 participants, 64% experienced FI, 26% engaged in IDU (occasional/frequent), and 52% experienced depressive symptoms at baseline. After lagging and adjustment for sociodemographic, socioeconomic, behavioural, and clinical confounders, IDU was associated with FI (adjusted OR [occasional]=1.22, 95% CI=0.79-1.90; aOR [frequent]=1.93, 95% CI=1.16-3.22). In a separate multivariate model, depressive symptoms were also associated with FI (aOR=2.01, 95% CI=1.48-2.74).
Conclusions: Frequent IDU and depressive symptoms are significantly associated with FI. Given the high prevalence of these factors, interventions aimed at reducing IDU and/or depressive symptoms may mitigate FI in this vulnerable sub-set of the HIV-positive population.
Intervention program on diet and physical activity to reduce food-insecurity in elderly – a study protocol
Rodrigues A, Gregório MJ, Gein P, Eusébio M, de Sousa R, Santos MJ, Oliveira P, Branco JC, Canhão H
Introduction: Food insecurity (FI) concept in elderly includes inability to use food due to functional impairments, health problems and illiteracy as well as inadequate food availability/accessibility. We aim to evaluate the effect of an educational/motivational TV-based intervention that promotes healthy lifestyles, in FI reduction in elderly.
Methods: Randomized controlled study in subjects 60 years old with FI, identified in Primary Care Centers of Lisboa e Vale do Tejo (Portugal). Primary outcome will be changes in participants’ FI score (Household Food Insecurity Scale) from baseline to 3 months. Subjects will be followed over 6 months and intervention will last 3 months. Data collection will be performed in three time points (baseline, end of intervention (3 months) and follow-up at 6 months). Intervention is based on an interactive TV application with an educational/motivational program developed for elderly with daily contents in video format: 1) Nutrition tips, 2) Healthy and low-cost recipes, 3) Physical exercise programs and 4) Brief reminders on health behaviors.
Results: Intervention is considered to be effective/meaningful if 50% of the individuals in the experimental group have a decrease of 1point in FI score, all the remaining being unchanged. We recruited 1134 subjects considering that 50% (based on INFOFAMÍLIA Survey) of the target individuals are food-insecure and that 50% of those will adhere to the study. We expect to include 282 (141 experimental and 141 control) food-insecure elderly.
Conclusion: These findings will serve as a foundation for future randomized controlled trials of efficacy using new technologies.
The Hunger Vital SignTM: Best Practices for Food Insecurity Screening in Medical Settings [PDF slides]
Rottapel R, Sheward R
The Hunger Vital SignTM (HVS) is a validated two-question food insecurity-screening tool that allows clinicians to accurately identify households at risk of food insecurity and address patient needs appropriately. Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the tool is being used by hundreds of clinicians in the US and is being incorporated into electronic health record systems. As use increases, it is critical to identify best practices for screening appropriately and intervening effectively.
An online survey was developed for professionals currently using the HVS in clinical and community-based settings. Survey response rates were examined alongside open-ended answers to determine common themes. Twenty respondents completed the survey (50% response rate). This research identified common practices for screening and intervening effectively, monitoring and evaluation strategies, and sustainability concerns. The findings reinforce the need for systematic approaches to screening, the use of validated screening tools, and the need for building strong links between medical care and community-based resources. While this research highlights themes and feedback from the front lines of care, more research is needed to provide a deeper understanding that includes patient perspectives, rural settings, identifies response differentials based on different screening methodologies, and identifies reliable funding streams for supporting this work. In general, more systematic follow-up research will be needed as practitioners continue to develop and refine models for screening for and intervening in food insecurity.
School meal/snack programs: review from a public health lens [Contact]
Galesloot S, Riege T, Tyminski S
Introduction: Recent calls for government investment in school food programs are partially intended to help families experiencing household food insecurity (HFI). A review of the literature was undertaken to determine the impact of school meal/snack programs on household food insecurity, health and learning outcomes, in order to understand the evidence base for such policy and program responses to HFI. Methods: The literature was searched for original articles, reports and reviews published between January 1980 and March 2014, using a systematic search strategy and key citations. Articles meeting inclusion criteria at the full text stage were appraised using standard quality rating tools.
Results: Despite an abundance of literature on the topic, few robust studies addressed the three outcomes of interest in a developed country; only three primary research articles (one cluster RCT and two cross-sectional studies) examined HFI. These studies were applicable to a targeted population approach. From this limited data it was not possible to conclude universal approach school meal programs impact HFI.
Practice Implications: While many groups advocate for government-funded universal school food programs, in part to address HFI, there is weak evidence that such programs are effective. Challenges include lack of research and inappropriate application of limited findings (E.g. failure to differentiate between targeted versus universal approach programs; health, social and educational system differences between countries). Article discussions often represent a strong food based response paradigm and there is a lack of dialogue around income based responses, as well as the effectiveness, risks and ethics of these programs.
Understanding Public Health Nurses Role in Addressing Food Insecurity
MacDonald S, Etowa J
The inability to meet basic food requirements compromises individual health and well-being, which have societal consequences. Nova Scotia is particularly vulnerable to food insecurity with a prevalence rate of 20%, the highest provincial rate in Canada. Public health nurses have an obligation and are well positioned to initiate collaborative efforts to address health inequities, such as food insecurity, yet little is known about their role. Using a qualitative case study approach underpinned by the philosophical assumptions of critical realism, this research seeks to describe the current state of public health nurses’ involvement in addressing food insecurity within their organizational and municipal contexts. Data will be collected through participant interviews, document review, and focus group discussions. Guided by framework analysis and the use of descriptive and conceptually-oriented matrices, cases will be analyzed using an iterative and inductive approach to identify case patterns. These case patterns will then be compared to identify cross-cutting factors that influence public health nurses decisions for involvement (or not) in addressing food insecurity. This research will contribute new knowledge in an understudied area about the nature and scope of public health nurses’ engagement in food insecurity. New understanding will be gained about the prevailing structures that influence efforts for public health nurses to engage in addressing food insecurity. Study findings will inform actionable recommendations to enhance public health nurses’ capacity to address food insecurity and the development of a conceptual framework to guide public health nursing practice.
The contribution of public health actors to food security in Quebec (Canada)
In the province of Quebec, public health actors are at the forefront of actions aiming to reduce food insecurity, and crafting diverse measures to ensure food security for all. In an effort to better understand the contribution of these public health actors and dress a portrait of the situation, a mixed method study was carried out involving: in-depth interviews with regional public health actors (N=18), as well as a content analysis of government documents. This presentation will unveil the study’s results based on a conceptual framework that integrates five determinants of food security. Moreover, it will identify a continuum of interventions, from targeted individual actions (the micro-environment), to larger-scale population-based initiatives (the macro-environment). This analysis will demonstrate that public health actors have a tendency to focus their energies on the microenvironment that reduces temporarily food insecurity, and in so doing neglecting the structural determinants of food security, reinforcing the idea that food insecurity is an individual responsibility rather than a collective one. Food insecurity is a result of collective decisions and actions and structural inadequacies, but alternatively should be considered as essential to efforts in fighting poverty and reducing social inequities. In light of our results and inspired by actions identified in the literature, several interventions were proposed as critical to rethinking and combatting food insecurity. The following four were retained as priorities: 1) act on the social and economic determinants of food security; 2) act on the food system, 3) support community initiatives; 4) review public health action.
Food safety and food security: Factors influencing successful collaborations between public health practitioners in British Columbia
Speed K, Meyer S, Hanning R, Majowicz S
Foodborne disease and food insecurity each affect 1 in 8 Canadians annually. While these health issues share common determinants, they are often addressed by separate public health sectors, raising potential for competition and unintended adverse outcomes for the other sector. In order to explore factors that influence the success of collaborations between the two sectors, 6 food safety and 8 food security practitioners from British Columbia, who were identified as having successfully collaborated with the other sector, were interviewed early in 2015. Audio-transcripts were inductively analyzed to explore facilitators and barriers to inter-sectoral collaborations. Multiple factors were reported to facilitate collaborations, including focusing on “the desired outcome” rather than entrenched organizational processes, engaging with the other sector “at the early stages” and having “ongoing dialogue” throughout the project, as well as understanding and valuing “the other’s position”. Reported factors that hindered collaboration included belief that one’s position should “take precedent” over the other. Other factors either facilitated or hindered collaboration depending on the specific circumstance, such as fear of being held liable for negative food safety outcomes. Better understanding of the factors that influence successful collaborations between practitioners of the food safety and food security sectors can lead to improved support for future collaborations, and ultimately improved health for the population.
Dietitians of Canada published an updated position statement on household food insecurity in Canada, with recommendations for action, in August 2016.
This presentation will review the history and process of developing the position and highlight key elements of the four recommendations:
1. a pan-Canadian government-led strategy that includes coordinated policies and programs, to ensure all households have consistent and sufficient income,
2. address the additional and unique challenges related to household food insecurity among Indigenous Peoples,
3. mandatory, annual monitoring and reporting of the prevalence of household food insecurity across Canada, and regular evaluation of the impact of poverty reduction strategies, and
4. support for continued research to address gaps in knowledge about household food insecurity, to inform implementation and evaluation of strategies and policies.
The presentation will end with examples of advocacy by Dietitians of Canada, in federal and provincial elections pre-budget submissions and as part of consultation about the Nutrition North Canada program.
Lower breastfeeding rates among low-income women are an important health inequity with implications for infant and household food security and overall health. The experience of mothers facing food insecurity (FI) in making infant feeding decisions, and the role that public health nurses (PHNs) play in supporting mothers vulnerable to FI in rural Nova Scotia, was explored through in-depth interviews guided using a critical health literacy perspective, and focusing on how the experience of FI influences breastfeeding decisions. Participants included 5 mothers who recently breastfed (or tried to breastfeed) and had experienced FI (as classified by the Household Food Security Survey Module), and 5 PHNs working in breastfeeding promotion. Although mothers interviewed mentioned cost savings as a key motivation for breastfeeding, some described a lack of nutritious food for themselves as a significant breastfeeding barrier, showing how food supports can be important in helping to alleviate stress around their own food intake and how this affects their baby while breastfeeding. While mothers identified PHNs to be a crucial part of their support networks, enabling them to exercise autonomy in their infant feeding decisions, PHNs did not perceive FI itself as a barrier to breastfeeding. Moreover, while PHNs recognized how stressful life circumstances associated with FI make breastfeeding more difficult, they described a limited ability to address FI in their practice, demonstrating a disconnect between breastfeeding as a named priority and a lack of mandate to address food insecurity in the Nova Scotia public health system.
Vulnerable Populations I
Temporary farm labour migration schemes in Canada have been justified on the premise that they bolster food security for Canadians by addressing agricultural labour shortages while providing remittances to temper food insecurity in the Global South. Yet, such appeals hinge on an ideology that defines racialized migrants as non-members of the Canadian state. Drawing on qualitative interviews and participant observation in Mexico, Jamaica and Canada, we present the dominant employer narratives that depict Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) as essential to preserving family farming and local food. Interviews with migrants and their families underscore how migrants’ remittances only partially and temporarily mitigate food insecurity. Data from our clinical encounters with farm workers illustrate critical dimensions of workers’ structural barriers to healthy food access and negative health consequences. We present an agenda for further research to inform policies to reduce food security and advance food sovereignty for migrants and Canadians alike.
Can Beggars Be Choosers? Mothers on low incomes navigating family food needs, consumer choice and expectations placed on low income people
The work of household food provisioning remains primarily the realm of women. For mothers living on low incomes, this work may be especially fraught with expectations and constraints. This study used semi-structured interviews with Peterborough, Ontario mothers living on low incomes to explore the influences shaping their household food work. Peterborough is a city that has been distinguished by its high unemployment, social assistance usage, food insecurity, and housing insecurity as well as vibrant network of community food initiatives. This research illustrates the factors, strategies and consequences related to feeding on low incomes and, in doing so, makes visible some of the contradictory pressures low income mothers may experience in ensuring their families are fed. Early analysis suggests that the household food work of mothers living on low incomes can place them among competing demands to embody the good mother, the good consumer and the good low income client. These include demands to feed families healthy and desired food on a limited budget, to exercise agency through market choices and to temper their claims by bearing in mind that “beggars can’t be choosers.” Findings from this study may help community food advocates and policy makers better understand and address the needs of low income mothers around household food practices.
The Experience of Food Insecurity among Post-Secondary Students: Barriers, Coping Strategies, and Perceived Health and Academic Implications [PDF slides] [Contact]
Maynard M, Meyer S, Perlman C, Kirkpatrick SI
Post-secondary students may be vulnerable to food insecurity due to uncertain financial circumstances. The paucity of research in this population poses a barrier to identifying strategies to promote student food security, which is worrisome since inadequate food access during this period could have deleterious implications for academic achievement and for health, now and into later adult life. This mixed-methods study utilized semi-structured, in-depth interviews complimented by surveys with University of Waterloo students to explore experiences of food insecurity (n=14). Eligible participants included undergraduate students who lived off campus and provided an indication of compromised food access due to financial constraints in response to a screening questionnaire. Results suggest that students encounter a variety of financial and other barriers to food access, both on and off-campus. Students adopt a range of coping strategies to manage their food supply, including accessing emergency food programs, finding free meals, food sharing, borrowing food or money for food, normalizing their situation, and demonstrating resiliency. Further, food insecurity is perceived to have negative impacts on academic achievement and health and well-being. The findings of this study, which is being conducted in partnership with Meal Exchange, will be shared broadly to help identify immediate actions that could be taken to promote food access in this population and to inform subsequent research needed to better understand this problem and potential policy and program solutions.
Deconstructing campus hunger: a case study of one university’s experience of food insecurity
Parker, B., and Burnett, K.
This paper will describe the demographic characteristics, levels of food insecurity, and coping strategies of students who accessed an on campus food bank run by the Student’s Union at Lakehead University in Northern Ontario from January to April of 2016. Data was collected through a voluntary survey (N=46) distributed at the campus food bank at the point of accessing emergency food services. The survey included questions from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) – Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM), as well as questions about the effects of food insecurity on physical, mental and social well-being and coping mechanisms. Our preliminary findings suggest students accessing the campus food bank experience moderate to severe food insecurity; are primarily undergraduate, domestic students with one in five identifying as First Nations, Metis, Inuit or non-status; several international students used the food bank over the period of data collection; and most participants experienced varying levels of physical, mental and social stress as a result of food precariousness. To cope, students described a range of strategies including selling possessions, delaying bill payments and purchasing textbooks/university supplies, increasing work hours, going to events specifically to access free food and stealing food. Our survey results lead to further questions about the experiences of food insecurity on campus and the role that can be played by the university to address student food insecurity at the broader policy level.
Hungry to Learn
Silverthorn D, Abraham A
In Canada, there is currently very little research on the extent or experiences of post-secondary student food insecurity. The presence of food banks, and other emergency food relief programs on almost every campus nation-wide are indicators that there is a problem, but tells us very little about it.The lack of research in this area until now has posed a barrier to identifying strategies to promote the accessibility of education for Canada’s youth and their health and wellbeing while being a student. In 2015, Meal Exchange conducted Canada’s first national cross-campus study of student food insecurity at 5 campuses. This presentation will provide a snapshot of the results from Meal Exchange’s pilot study , including quantitative and qualitative data on the experience of food insecurity amongst students, the barriers that limit access to healthy and affordable food, and the demographics of who is affected most. The preliminary findings suggest that food insecurity is a serious problem among students in Canada, and that the experience of food insecurity amongst students differs from that of the general population. An analysis of the policy and societal factors that have made hunger a commonplace reality on campuses across the country will also be explored. The session will end with an overview of potential policy solutions for ensuring adequate access to food among post-secondary students in Canada, in hopes of creating equitable and accessible campuses that foster the best development of Canada’s emerging leaders.
Student-driven Initiatives to Combat Food Insecurity: Initial Research and Recommendations
Snow N, Adamiak J
Food insecurity among post-secondary student populations is on the rise (Meal Exchange, 2016). In April 2016, a faculty member, Nancy Snow, and the manager of the Student Union, Joanna Adamiak, used a pre-existing survey to collect information on the state of food security at OCAD University, an urban campus comprised predominantly of undergraduate art and design students. The survey content and structure was taken from research conducted in spring of 2015 at the University of Saskatchewan which found a 28% prevalence of food insecurity in student participants (Olauson, 2015) and at Acadia University which found a 38% prevalence of food insecurity in student participants (Frank, 2016). The intent in running the survey at OCAD University was to determine the prevalence, circumstances, and the self-identified effects of food insecurity on student participants. The goal was to use the perspectives gathered to inform future decisions on existing Student Union programs such as the Hot Lunch and Student Pantry (on-campus food bank) as well as potential new initiatives or programs from a student-driven perspective. The presentation will share the findings from the survey while contextualizing them in findings from the other universities as well as research on food insecurity in large city centres. It will also share concrete steps for further research and dissemination of findings to the OCAD University community. Out of these findings Nancy and Joanna will offer some food policy recommendations for Universities with small campuses as well as those in urban settings.
“There is a lot less red tape to cut through to get a food bank voucher to somebody”: food insecurity, food bank use, and the changing role of the welfare state – findings from a mixed-methods study in Scotland and Finland
In the context of recent growth of food banks, food insecurity has become a prominent issue in many European welfare states and yet our knowledge of who it is affecting and how is very limited. Systematic measurements of household level experiences of food insecurity and of food bank use are not widely gathered and there is a need for better understanding of such lived experiences. In the context of rapid welfare reform there is also need for greater critical reflection on how food banks are challenging and changing welfare states, particularly in countries where they have only recently become widespread.
This paper draws on initial findings of a mixed-methods study which aims to understand food insecurity and food bank use in Glasgow and compare the role of food banks within the welfare states of Scotland and Finland. The paper presents quantitative analysis of data from the Go Well study – a household survey with a repeat cross-sectional design conducted between 2006 and 2015 in 15 deprived neighbourhoods in Glasgow. Findings suggest how levels of food affordability difficulty have changed over time, differently affecting particular groups. Levels of food bank use and characteristics of users are examined. The paper also presents rich, qualitative data from interviews with survey respondents and service providers, as well as some smaller scale comparative qualitative data gathered in Finland. It examines a range of lived experiences of food insecurity, explores perceptions of food banks, and considers the implications of these for the role of the welfare state.
An Alternative Voice for UK Food Aid Providers
In the UK there are signs of increased institutionalisation of the food bank system and the reliance the government has placed on the system to deal with the issues driving food bank use. For example, in 2015, Priti Patel, then the employment minister, was quoted as saying that ‘food banks play an important role in welfare provision’ (Hansard, HC Deb. 2015). Following a Winston Churchill Fellowship to Ontario, Canada in April 2015, I set out to create an alternative voice for food aid providers in the UK. The only voice that has been heard at a national level until now has been that of the Trussell Trust, a charity that represents approximately half of the food banks in the UK, not including all the other models of food aid. IFAN, the Independent Food Aid Network, will be run by food aid providers for food aid providers and will seek membership from groups that are prepared to challenge the status quo and are not prepared to see the continuation of the institutionalisation of the food aid system.
This new representative body will provide a platform for food aid providers to add their voice to the need for changes that will stem the growth, and ultimately end the need for food aid provision. At the conference I will present more about why and how IFAN has been developed, why this is bringing something very different to the UK, as well as what we hope to achieve by creating this alternative network.
Minimization of Poverty Stigma in an Emergent Charity Model: A New Brunswick Case Study
Riddoch B, Theriault L
Canadian food charities can occupy an integral survival space for hundreds of thousands of Canadians each year (Food banks Canada [FBC], 2016). Problems arise when food charities become stigmatizing agents, making spaces for receiving help turbulent exercises in social stratification (Reutter et al., 2009; Lync & Phelan, 2001). The presence of Poverty Stigma in food charities has been a leading contributor in the development of a new dignity-based charity model, the Community Food Centre, which emerged as a national model in 2012 (Community Food Centres Canada [CFCC], 2015). Fredericton, NB is the home of Atlantic Canada’s first Community Food Centre.
Initial findings from a case study of Fredericton’s Greener Village Community Food Centre will be the feature of discussion. The food centre’s recent transition from a traditional food bank to a community food centre model allows for a mixed-methods approach; combining in-depth interviews with survey data from participants who have accessed services prior to and after the change. Perspectives of staff, volunteers, and clients of the community food centre are included in the analysis. Particular areas of focus are the minimization of poverty stigma and the means used by the food centre to promote choice and self-esteem. Data will be utilized to construct a discussion of efficacy in stigma minimization within the community food centre model.
From temporary relief to lifelong emergency? The food bank directors’ views of their work in the era of institutionalized food charity in Toronto [Contact]
The paper discusses how the directors of the relatively new food banks in Toronto view their work in the era of institutionalized food charity. The first food banks that started in Canada in the 1980s hardly aimed at initiating a long-term response to food insecurity. Rather, they mainly shared the understanding that their work was intended as a temporary response to the increasing poverty of that time. However, three decades later, neither food banks nor food insecurity have disappeared. This development begs the question of whether the idea of food charity as temporary emergency assistance still holds among the food assistance providers or has their perception of their role in fighting hunger and food insecurity changed. The study is based on eight key informant interviews carried out in 2014 with nine people in leadership positions in the recently initiated food banks in Toronto. The findings point towards the understanding of food charity as a lifelong emergency instead of a temporary aid. The interviewees discussed their work through the frames of feeding the hungry, building the community, advocating for change, and putting religious beliefs and teachings from pulpit to practice. The faith frame of food banking interlocks the other three frames and illustrates how food assistance is heavily rooted in the social and cultural constructions of hunger as a matter for charity, often with strong religious underpinnings.
Presentation based on:
Anna Sofia Salonen (2016). Lifelong Emergency? The Food Bank in an Era of Institutionalized Food Charity in Toronto. Diaconia: Volume 7, Issue 1, pp. 27-42.
Food security and insecurity in New Brunswick: portrait, challenges and perspectives
Tranchant C, Pépin-Filion D, Forgues E, Carrier N, LeBlanc C, LeBlanc J, Guignard J, Pautenaude LA
New Brunswick (NB) experiences a higher prevalence of household food insecurity (FI) compared to non-Maritime Canadian provinces. It also has the lowest per capita income. Community-based organizations (CBOs) including charities provide a great deal of assistance related to FI/poverty but these initiatives have not been systematically documented and their impact remains under-evaluated.
The present study is the first to provide a comprehensive province-wide portrait and assessment of community food security in NB. The research also aimed to describe the approaches and practices of CBOs dealing with FI, to assess food assistance quality, and to determine which actions should be taken to reduce FI. Specific consideration was given to the various socioeconomic, linguistic and food environment contexts of the province’s urban and rural communities.
The interdisciplinary mixed methodology included thematic literature reviews, inventories and geographic mapping of CBOs providing food assistance (170) and of food outlets (408), an online survey (100 respondents from CBOs), focus groups, and visits to food banks and soup kitchens.
Results suggest that the following measures should be prioritized to reduce FI and improve food security in NB: i) develop a provincial strategy to increase the impact of actions taken; ii) identify, strengthen and increase the number of best practices and of government measures and policies effective in impacting FI and its root causes; iii) improve food assistance qualitatively and quantitatively to better counteract regional disparities as well as the economic, nutritional and health vulnerability of people experiencing FI. Recommendations and suggested actions are put forward.
Community Research and Programs
Preliminary look at social connectedness and informal food economy activities for addressing food insecurity in Canada
In semi-structured interviews with 22 food insecure residents of Kingston, Ontario research participants frequently note that their informal social and economic relationships and networks are key resources for addressing food insecurity. Respondents discuss their participation in informal food economy activities, which includes bartering, buying, selling, and trading, and food sharing within family and friendship networks. Social networks also play a role for sharing information about community resources, including services and sources for cheap and/or free food, and for learning food preparation skills. The ability to engage in self-provisioning through informal food economy activities appears to be correlated with social connectedness.
Informal sector activities are by nature hard to define and measure, however the frequency of these reports suggests that they are important when theorizing food insecurity. Other researchers have also documented the use of informal food economy activities for self-provisioning among food insecure populations in Canada and the USA (Michalski 2003; Kempson et al. 2003; Rose, 2011; Kaiser & Hermsen, 2015). Others have specifically noted the correlation between social isolation and food insecurity (Tarasuk, 2001; Lee & Frongillo, 2001).
Does policy have a role to play in supporting social inclusion as a means of addressing food insecurity? To what degree is it possible or desirable to support and/or regulate informal food economy activities through policy?
Food banks providing emergency food assistance are often one of the only resources available to assist individuals experiencing food insecurity in Canadian communities. However, food banks often have a limited capacity to help their clients meet their nutritional needs. The Parkdale Food Centre in Ottawa, Ontario offers a novel approach to addressing community food insecurity. The Centre provides emergency food assistance and community programs with a focus on providing nutritious foods. This qualitative study aims to describe the experiences of the clients accessing the programs and services at the Parkdale Food Centre and explore how the clients’ interactions with the Food Centre have affected their lives. Semi-structured interviews and a participatory Photovoice project were conducted with 12 Food Centre users. The data was analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The Food Centre users often described their experiences in contrast to their previous experiences with food banks. Many described the differences in quality of food provided, including the increased availability of fresh produce. The connection to opportunities, support facilitated, and the reduced sense of stigma emerged in how the clients described their interactions at the Centre. In addition to informing decisions at the Food Centre, these results may be used to inform decisions on expanding novel programs to more effectively address community food security.
Exploring the experience of food insecurity in low to middle income Melbourne, Australia households using a mixed methods design
Kleve S, Palermo C, Booth S, Davidson Z
Australian data on the prevalence and lived experiences of food insecurity of low to middle income households is limited. This research examined food insecurity (FIS) and food security (FS) experiences of low to middle income Melbourne, Victoria households ($40,000 to $80,000AUD annual household income). An explanatory, sequential two phase mixed methods design was implemented. A cross-sectional purposive sample of households (n=134) across metropolitan Melbourne completed a quantitative survey. This survey identified low to middle income households and classified food security status according to the 18 item United States Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Survey Module. Descriptive statistics were performed to describe both FIS and FS households. Survey respondents who met the low to middle income household criteria were interviewed to explore the experience of food insecurity and security. Thirty six percent of respondents (n=42), were classified as food insecure or at risk of being food insecure with varying severity levels. Sixteen in-depth interviews were completed, thematically analysed and a constant comparison approach was applied to the data within and across FS and FIS groups. Five themes emerged:
• Household food decisions: complex, dynamic & multi-factorial,
• Constant interaction of multiple protective assets,
• Triggers act alone or are cumulative & may be beyond household control,
• Assets into action juggling & applying management strategies,
• Emotional rollercoaster of food access and provision.
This research increases our understanding of food insecurity in middle income households by exploring an evidence gap, providing insight into the lived experiences and the challenges addressing this public health issue.
Early impact of a new food store intervention in the inner-city on health-related outcomes
Muhajarine N, Abeykoon H, Engler-Stringer R
This study investigated the early impact of a community-based food intervention, the Good Food Junction (GFJ), a full-service grocery store (September, 2012 – January, 2016) in a former food desert in Saskatoon. The hypothesis tested was that frequent shopping at the GFJ improved food security and selected health-related outcomes among shoppers. Further, it tested whether these improvements differ for participants with multiple disadvantage (Aboriginals, seniors, low-income, and low-education).
Longitudinal data were collected from 156 GFJ shoppers, on three occasions: 12 months post-opening, 18 months, and 24 months. Frequency of shopping at the GFJ were assessed and participants were grouped in three categories: low, moderate and high. A generalized estimating equations approach was used for model building; moderating effects were tested.
Participants were predominantly female, Aboriginals, with low-income, and had high school or some post-secondary education. Frequency of GFJ use was associated in a dose-response manner with food security, mental health, and BMI. Impact on food security was significantly moderated by participants’ education; impact on mental health and BMI were significantly moderated by income and chronic conditions, respectively. Further, having multiple disadvantaged conditions significantly modified the effect of GFJ use on participants’ mental health.
Shopping at the GFJ had a positive effect on food security, mental health, and BMI, but to varying levels for those with less than high school or high school or better levels of education, or with low income, or with pre-existing chronic conditions. Those with multiple disadvantage had lower likelihood of positive outcomes independent of GFJ use.
Shifting the Elixir for Food Security: What can we learn from participatory research?
Williams P, Johnson C, and partners of the Voices for Food Security in Nova Scotia and Activating Change Together for Community Food Security Projects
Since 2001, community and academic partners of the Food Action Research Centre have applied participatory action research (PAR) methods to: 1) understand and articulate the lived experiences of food insecurity; 2) connect people’s experiences to opportunities for change; 3) foster civic engagement and critical thinking about food insecurity; and 4) enhance individual, organizational, community and systems capacity for research and action to contribute to policy change that addresses food insecurity. Our findings show that PAR processes are valuable in shifting the thinking among participants and partners, and creating and strengthening relationships at many levels. Our Participatory Food Costing research on the material capabilities of various household scenarios dependent on Income Assistance or minimum wage earnings in Nova Scotia helps to illuminate the need for income-based responses to food insecurity. Our research and experience has also uncovered divergent worldviews on income-related food insecurity, however, that pose significant barriers to realizing income-based policy responses that are needed to truly address food insecurity. In addition to sharing insights from our research, we will highlight some examples, such as the Hand You are Dealt board game, where we share research on food insecurity in a way that has proved to be effective in capturing people’s attention, creating empathy, and challenging and transfoming perceptions and assumptions about people facing food insecurity. Finally we will reflect on what more is needed to transcend divergent worldviews on poverty to realize income-based policy responses, including a basic income, to what is a significant public health problem in Canada.
In 2014, an internal working group of York Region Community and Health Services (CHS) was asked to investigate food insecurity in the Region. The working group was established to identify causes of food insecurity for York Region residents and to propose potential strategies to address food insecurity. Data collection for the project started in 2015 and included five areas: a literature review on food insecurity policies and practices, focus groups with internal CHS staff, surveys with CHS staff teams, surveys and focus groups with external community agencies and surveys and focus groups with CHS clients. Internal CHS staff invited to participate in the research included staff working in areas of the social determinants of health, or in areas that serve residents more likely to experience food insecurity. A convenience sample of CHS clients at risk of experiencing poverty and food insecurity were included in the research from four programs: public health dental clinics, social assistance, program for at risk families and subsidized housing residents. The goal was to use findings from the data and literature review results to provide recommendations to the CHS Department Management Team about possible actions to help address food insecurity in York Region. The presentation will provide an overview of the process and methodology used for this research project. Lessons learned while engaging key informants, especially the community agencies and clients, will be presented. Selected preliminary results and/or proposed recommendations will also be shared.
A basic decision support system to guide policy in food insecurity
Escobar MD, Tarasuk V, Cranfield J, Orr S
Food insecurity is a serious problem in Canada, affecting almost 13% of households. While the socio-demographic and health correlates of food insecurity in Canada have been well documented, and there has been some research to elucidate the sensitivity of household food insecurity status to particular policy interventions, the synthesis of this evidence in ways that can inform policy action is lacking. A Bayesian network is used as a way leverage evidence in order to inform the policy process. In preliminary modelling, we model how policy initiatives could reduce food insecurity in Canada. The Bayesian network is used to capture different pieces of knowledge/evidence and shows how different policy initiatives work their way through the knowledge network. Besides providing a method to understand how decisions move through the network, it can also highlight areas of uncertainty and where there are knowledge gaps. In our preliminary model, we look at the effect of instituting an income floor in terms of the change in the prevalence of severe food insecurity.
Food insecurity and the formula fed infant: A succession of social policy failures
This presentation will detail current Canadian governmental policy/programs, as well as community-based responses, surrounding maternal and infant nutrition targeted to low-income circumstances and food insecurity. Based on a random sample of interviews (N=26) conducted across Canada in 2016 with CPNP projects and food charity programs, as well as a review of provincial/territorial income assistance policies, infant feeding policy, and provincial income supplements, this research shows that formula fed infants in households with emergency food needs face unique barriers to food access. It demonstrates how inadequate incomes, weak social welfare programing for maternal/infant nutrition, and contested policy concerning formula provisioning, heightens infant food insecurity contributing to nutrition vulnerability for formula fed infants.
Reframing food insecurity for policy reform
Kleve S, Barons M, Barbour L, Gallegos D, Palermo C
Despite an apparent abundance of food in high income countries, many households experience food insecurity. As a consequence, physical, social and emotional health is compromised, with associated costs to individuals, communities and healthcare systems. To date, responses to address food insecurity in high income countries have been within a neoliberal framework, with a strong focus on individual responsibility. Individuals or households are responsible for alleviating food insecurity through a variety of coping mechanisms usually culminating in accessing emergency food relief. There has been little political engagement in looking at and addressing the underlying determinants of food insecurity. In September 2016 a meeting of approximately 20 international researchers and practitioners leading food insecurity efforts in high income countries came together with the aim of re-framing the issue of food insecurity. By sharing successes and challenges from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America and Australia, participants were able to reframe this wicked problem to enhance advocacy efforts and develop a programme of international and interdisciplinary research to progress this work. This collaborative work presents an array of new and unique solutions to address the determinants of household food insecurity in wealthy countries and informs effective preventive efforts for local, regional and national policymakers to enact.
Household food insecurity in British Columbia, Canada, 2005-2012
Li N, Dachner N, Tarasuk V
As concerns about food insecurity in high income countries grow, there is a need to better understand the impact of social policy decisions on this problem. In Canada, provincial government actions are particularly important because of the burden food insecurity places on provincial health care budgets. This study was undertaken to describe the socio-demographic and temporal patterning of food insecurity in British Columbia (BC) from 2005 to 2012 and determine the impact of BC’s one-time increase in social assistance and introduction of the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) on food insecurity rates among target groups. Using data for BC respondents in the Canadian Community Health Surveys for 2005 and 2007-2012, logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify socio-demographic correlates of household food insecurity and assess changes in food insecurity among subgroups differentiated by main source of income and housing tenure. Models were run against three different food insecurity measures to explore whether the impact of policy changes differed depending on the severity of food insecurity considered. The odds of food insecurity among BC households rose by 22% between 2005 and 2012, after taking into account household characteristics. Following the increase in benefits, food insecurity among households reliant on social assistance declined significantly, but we could discern no effect of the RAP on food insecurity among renter households. Our findings indicate the sensitivity of food insecurity among social assistance recipients to improvements in income and highlight the importance of examining all levels of food insecurity when assessing the effects of policy interventions.
Reducing Food Insecurity in the Liberal Welfare State: What can be done in the Absence of State Action? [PDF slides]
Raphael D, Bryant T
Advocates working on reducing food insecurity in Canada have outlined a variety of public policy actions that would accomplish this goal. Despite these activities, the incidence of food insecurity has not declined but has rather increased. Most analyses consider this failure to be due to the lack of evidence concerning the importance of reducing food insecurity or the failure to effectively disseminate this evidence. Rarely considered is the nature of Canada’s economic and political system which is clearly aligned with what Esping-Andersen terms the liberal welfare state. The defining feature of the liberal welfare state is State reluctance to interfere in the operation of the economic market. In our presentation we outline the distinctive features of the liberal welfare state and how it makes addressing food insecurity through public policy action difficult. We also provide means by which such welfare state analysis can assist food security advocates in accomplishing change despite these hurdles. In our analysis the solution to food insecurity does not depend upon further evidence creation and dissemination but rather upon the building of political and social movements that will shift power from the business and corporate sector to that of average Canadians. In essence, an explicitly political economy analysis can serve to direct activities of food security advocates and overcome potential barriers provided within the liberal welfare state.
A basic income is a grant paid to every citizen, regardless of occupational situation, marital status, work performance or availability for work (Van Parijs 1991). Also known as a guaranteed annual income, a guaranteed minimum income, a basic income guarantee or a negative income tax, this policy has support across the political spectrum. From the left perspective, it is a means to free people from dependence on the job market, a tool for social solidarity amidst a rapidly changing world of work and a means to abolish poverty (Jackson 2016). From the right perspective, it promises to simplify complex income security programs and replace most if not all welfare state programs with a single cash payment that would allow individuals to meet their needs in the market (ibid).
Opposition also spans the political spectrum. On the left, a basic income would do nothing to address the underlying causes of poverty, while wiping out other systems of support. On the right, critics argue that hard workers would be exploited by loafers (Van Parijs 1992).
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent ‘jobless recovery,’ discussions concerning a basic income have increased dramatically: op-ed pieces are appearing in newspapers, speeches are being made on the subject and at least one Canadian province is looking at the idea seriously.
This paper will survey the literature on basic income and present the arguments for and against this new policy idea, with particular emphasis on its ability to tackle food insecurity.
Vulnerable Populations II
Depicting solutions to food insecurity as envisioned by young adults who live with it: results from the Hochelaga’Table project
Pomier-Layrargues C, Marquis M.
The rapid growth of emergency food programs in the last decade in Canada has been paralleled with an increase in food insecurity threatening various segments of Canadians. Limited data exist on young adults facing food insecurity. Objective: Explore young adult’s expectations toward solutions to their food insecurity. Method: During summer and fall of 2014, 46 adults aged 18 to 30 years old took part in a series of three creative and empowering workshops designed to better understand the food system they evolve in, and to reflect on the solutions they value to enhance the food security in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montréal. Using a combination of innovative technics such as dot democracy and citizen participation oriented focus groups, the non for profit organisation Alternatives collected qualitative data on various aspects of their food consumption and expectations. Results: Solutions proposed by participants to enhance the food security in this underprivileged neighborhood of Montreal mark the need for more alternatives that help preserve the dignity of those who seek help. These young adults are interested in programs that stimulate solidarity in the community and emphasize on environment-friendly aspects such as reducing food wastage. Discussion: Although a food-based strategy alone is insufficient to tackle this economy based issue, taking into account the perceptions and needs of those experiencing food insecurity could lead to more effective measures to help reduce this growing concern. Moreover the results support the need for exploring food behaviour with innovative qualitative approaches suited to various clienteles.
Consuming Connections: Food, Homelessness, and Relationships across Social Strata
Russell J, Parkes M
This research explored the differences in food access for people experiencing homelessness according to the gatekeeper relationships that enabled access to food. This research took place in a small city in northern BC. Qualitative data were collected via a modified approach to community mapping, a focus group and semi-structured interviews.There were 13 people who took part in this research. All participants identified as Indigenous people, and all but one of the participants were either middle-aged or senior adults. The majority of participants indicated that they had grown up in small towns, rural areas, or on reserve, and they now felt a sense of displacement living within the city. The results indicated participants experienced distinct patterns in relationships with both people who were not experiencing homelessness, such as staff at service providers or the general public, and with other people who were similarly experiencing homelessness or were underhoused. These relationships had an importance influence on food access for the participants. According to participants, personality conflicts and misuse of power were factors that prevented or impeded access to food including food available though charitable food programs. On the other hand, access to food was enhanced by relationships that were caring, by generosity, and a sense of being respected. These patterns in relationships were important to understanding the overall health and wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness in this small city, and in particular for the participants who identified as Indigenous women.
The Paying for Nutrition in Northern Canada Project: Reflections on Lack of Available Data for Calculating the Cost of Living in Communities in the Provincial North
Skinner K, Burnett K, Williams P, Martin D
On-reserve households throughout Canada, especially in the provincial norths, are experiencing a crisis in food security. In 2014, Food Secure Canada initiated a community-university partnership to study the affordability of a basic nutritious food basket relative to relevant northern household composition scenarios and the cost of living. Within the context of limited resources, our teams chose the Revised Northern Food Basket (RNFB) as the most relevant available tool to collect food costs. Our RNFB data were collected in grocery stores in three on-reserve communities and two municipalities in northern Ontario, as well as in those in close proximity to, or on-reserve, in Nova Scotia. We aimed to examine the cost of healthy eating in relation to the overall cost of living for communities in the provincial North, in relation to the affordability of healthy eating in Southern Canada. We found it impossible to construct meaningful expense and household affordability scenarios given the paucity of current, comprehensive data on the cost of living in on-reserve and northern communities. For example, common data sources for calculating the cost of living include the Survey of Household Spending; however, these data are not collected on-reserve. In this presentation we share our experience with respect to data options available to determine the affordability of healthy eating on-reserve. We will use cost of living data collected in one northern community to illustrate the variability for specific costs of living and other challenges faced in the application of food costing in on-reserve and northern communities.
Food Security, Climate Change and Community Capitals: A Case Study from a Northern Canadian Aboriginal Community
Spring A, Blay-Palmer A
Canada’s North offers unique food system perspectives. Built on close cultural and spiritual ties to the land, the food systems within many northern communities still rely heavily on the harvesting and gathering of country food and function through the sharing of food throughout the community. However, social, economic and environmental pressures, including climate change, have meant that some communities rely more on food purchased from the stores, which can be unhealthy and expensive, leading to high rates of food insecurity and chronic health problems in many communities in the North. Given these pressures, in several instances, communities are now taking a more active role in defining their food systems and taking steps to ensure access to healthy foods.
This research presents a case study from the Northern Canadian boreal community of Kakisa, Northwest Territories. Using a Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) methodology, community members play an active role in identifying threats to the community food system, as well as developing community-based solutions to adapt and even transform their food systems to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and other threats to food insecurity. By using the Community Capitals Framework, this research examines how communities allocate existing, stored and available capitals to adapt to the impacts of climate change as well as identify what capitals communities require to build a more sustainable food system for the future.
How can we build food security among Prince Edward Island First Nations? A Community Perspective
Taylor J, Ramjattan M, Francis B, Martin D, MacDougall A, Walton C, Court MW, Myers L, MacDougall L
Past interventions to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in First Nations (FN) communities have traditionally focused on individual behavioural change. While interventions have had some positive effect on dietary intakes, there has been little impact on obesity and T2D rates. It has been argued that one reason for this the lack of success is that interventions have not focused on the unjust conditions associated with chronic disease such as food insecurity, which is linked to poor quality diets and increased obesity and T2D among FN communities. In order to design effective interventions aimed at improving household food security, and ultimately reduce T2D and obesity among FN, we conducted a community wide consultation in PEI FN communities to identify key barriers to accessing healthy food as well as strategies to improve food security. A total of 30 individual interviews were conducted in Lennox Island (n=13), Abegweit First Nation (n=10), and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy (n=7), which represents all PEI FN. Five focus groups were held with a total of 34 participants (12 men, 22 women). Analysis suggests that participants struggle to access healthy food and are interested in reclaiming traditional food knowledge and skills. Food cost was identified as the number one barrier to healthy eating. In order to impact food insecurity, it is thus important that any program or policy responses address barriers to food access and have direct economic benefits.
Food Sovereignty and Refugee Path Immigrants
Adekunle B, Filson G
Culture, acquired taste and past experiences shape the reality of people in terms of their food preferences (Adekunle et. al, 2010, 2011, and 2012) and their willingness to acculturate in a new country. As people migrate from Africa, South Asia and China to Canada, Aboriginal people also move to urban areas to explore opportunities and a better standard of living. This migration pattern, from within and outside the country has led to a situation where some people are pre-disposed to food insecurity because of the non-availability of what they consume in their respective countries or communities and their dependence on inexpensive, lower nutritional value foods that are available through food banks or mainstream grocery stores. This situation affects the different cultural groups that have migrated to Toronto, the focus city of this project, especially the refugee path immigrants. Based on this premise, there is a need for policies that will strengthen the value chain of culturally appropriate foods in terms of sovereignty, accessibility, availability and quality.
Can refugee path immigrants control their food through access to culturally appropriate foods, community shared agriculture, urban gardening, attendance of farmers market, avoidance of processed food, etc.?
Introduction: The relationship between income, household food insecurity (HFI), healthy food costs and other basic living expenses is of interest to those who work in the public health and civil society sectors. A review of published and grey literature revealed that household profiles are the most common way to examine and discuss food affordability. However, the review did not uncover an evidence-based and reproducible process to identify or develop profiles that represent the types of households most vulnerable to HFI within a specified geography.
Methods: A multi-methods approach was undertaken to establish an evidence-based process for defining generic household profiles that reflect the populations at highest risk of HFI in Alberta. This process integrates a diverse cluster of national and provincial data to specify the following characteristics of each profile: household composition, sex and age of all household members, and household income source.
Results: The process guided the development of four profiles that best represent households at statistically higher risk for HFI in Alberta. It also supported the development of a profile that represents a household shown to experience lower rates of HFI due to policy protection.
Implications for Practice: The process established can be reproduced in Alberta and other provinces or territories in Canada. Various stakeholders may wish to apply a similar statistics based approach to demonstrate the affordability of healthy eating for households at greatest risk for HFI.
Data is only beginning to emerge on the prevalence of food insecurity among university students in Canada – a very recently released study indicated a food insecurity rate of 39% among Canadian university students (Silverthorn, 2016), compared with 12% in the general Canadian population (Tarasuk et al., 2016). Food insecurity in university students has been associated with poor general health and poorer academic performance (e.g., Gallegos et al., 2014). Given the rising cost of a basic nutritious diet (FoodARC, 2013), cost of living (CCPA, 2014) and postsecondary tuition rates in Nova Scotia (Statistics Canada, 2014), it can be postulated that the affordability of a healthy diet is becoming more difficult for postsecondary students. In order to assess this idea, the current study analyzed secondary data on essential expenses for students, including the cost of the National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) over a 13 year interval (2002-2015). Four different income scenarios were examined. These scenarios demonstrate the inadequacy of student assistance programs and of minimum wage in Nova Scotia, in order to allow students to pay for tuition and other student fees while maintaining a healthy diet. Generally, it was found that only students who were on the Career Seek income assistance program could consistently pay for a healthy diet without accumulating a monthly deficit. In 4 of 7 years, students receiving a student loan were at risk of accumulating a monthly deficit; the other two income scenarios (part-time and full-time employment at minimum wage) put students at risk of a potential deficit in all 7 years. Generally, potential deficits grew larger from 2002 to 2015, although there was fluctuation year-to-year.
Learning causes and consequences: the experiences of the “Urban Food (In)Security” graduate reading group
Gilbert E, Schwartz N,Coopersmith A, Erlich S, Lue A, Masoudi M, Murie S, Tanaka J, Wakefield S
This paper documents the experiences of a small group of graduate students at the University of Toronto undertaking a reading course on urban food (in)security. The reading course was initiated by the students, who felt that they would benefit from more formal exposure to the food (in)security literature. Students came from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and collectively brought their considerable volunteer experience (with emergency food providers and/or alternative food initiatives) to bear on the readings. Together, the group assembled a reading list consisting of a wide range of classic texts and new writings on food (in)security in urban areas, particularly in Canada and met regularly to discuss these readings in the summer of 2016. An experiment in collective autoethnography, our paper draws on reflections on readings written by students, as well as on in-class and post-class discussions, to explore how the group shifted their understandings of how the problem of food insecurity has been framed in Canada, and the effectiveness of particular interventions in addressing food insecurity. The paper illustrates the importance of formal educational experiences in shaping individual understandings of, and responses to, food insecurity in Canada and provides suggestions about effective pedagogical strategies in this context.
Food Insecurity is a multidimensional, multi-domain challenge that is connected to issues of poverty, equality, equity, access, waste, and distribution. While scientists, policy makers, and communities work together to eliminate food insecurity at its roots, it remains necessary to manage and mitigate the short and long term effects of those who are food insecure. Simple yet innovative approaches are required to 1) educate the public on the issues faced by, and real time needs of emergency food providers (EFPs), 2) modify individual behaviours to reduce food waste and encourage support for EFPs where resources permit, 3) improve the quality and quantity of food donated to the emergency food system, and 4) eliminate food deserts that are spatially or temporally defined. This presentation will describe a five-year study that explores the use of community-engaged scholarship in a 3rd year computer science classroom at the University of Guelph to develop innovative solutions that address the short and long term effects of food insecurity. Findings will be presented within the context of specific projects including Farm To Fork, the Garden Fresh Box program, the Appleseed Collective, Meal Exchange’s Trick Or Eat Campaign, and the Seed Community Food Hub’s POD Program.
A new definition of food waste is purposed and suggests that most foods produced by animals, due to the inherent inefficiencies associated with feeding animals for human consumption versus plant products being directly consumed by humans, is a form of waste. Both sides of the issue are presented using a multidisciplinary approach that integrates literature from human nutrition research that looks are the nutrient requirements of humans for surviving and thriving with or without animal products, the supply chain and life cycle analysis (LCA) literature that tracks food products and the inputs required for their movement, the social justice literature that describes the implications of shifts in dietary preferences and pressures as well as the food security literature. The authors each approach opposing sides of the debate and describe the merits and weaknesses in a definition of food waste that includes most forms of animal products. They then each purpose how animal products can or cannot fit into the discussion around food insecurity and food waste. They conclude by producing a joint call for more engaged scholarship, as described by Van de Ven in 2007, between researchers from many disciplines as well industry participants. The discussion emphasizes existing information in the literature that ties together food insecurity and food waste as well as highlighting the limited discussion in academic literature on the idea of animal product exclusion from the food supply chain.
Background: In Canada, over 850,000 people used food banks in March 2015, representing a 26% increase since 2008. Although food bank use is rising, few studies have described the diverse experiences of individuals who use them. This study examined characteristics and experiences of individuals who use food banks, including how and why they access them, their current challenges with food bank services, and their hopes for the future.
Methods: This convergent mixed-methods study included interviewer-administered surveys(n=77) and focus groups(n=27) with food bank users from Vancouver, BC. Surveys assessed socio-demographics, health characteristics, food bank use, and satisfaction with services. Focus groups examined experiences, challenges, and recommendations for improving services. Analyses included descriptive statistics of survey data and thematic analysis of focus group transcripts.
Results: Inadequate income emerged as the most prominent factor influencing food bank use. Survey respondents reported severe food insecurity(66%), health challenges(77%), reliance on income supports(84%), and long-term(>5years) food bank use(54%). The majority of survey and focus group participants anticipated needing food bank services in the future, though many reported food banks did not provide enough food to meet their household’s need. Highlighted areas for improvement include food quality and quantity, changes to service delivery, and poverty reduction advocacy.
Significance: Food banks are an entrenched, long-term strategy for low-income households driven by inadequate finances to access food. While gratitude for their services was apparent, this study supports growing evidence that food banks are an insufficient response to food insecurity.
Assessing food security among WLU students [PDF slides]
Jagannathan S, Shankardass K
Post-secondary students are vulnerable to food insecurity in relation to their transition toward independence from their parents or guardians; deficits of the food environment around schools; and the regular academic and financial stressors they often face. Research on food insecurity in this population is lacking among Canadians; although there has been increasing demand for food bank services on some campuses. This study contributes to this knowledge gap by pilot testing a data collection tool suitable for Canadian post-secondary institutions, while determining the prevalence of food insecurity and its predictors among Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) students. After sampling 782 WLU students, it was found that 52.3% were food secure; 30.8% faced difficulties in having sufficient and nutritious food (moderately food insecure), and the remainder (16.9%) were severely food insecure due to financial inadequacies. Multinomial regression models illustrated that non-white students were more likely to experience moderate and severe food insecurity, and that reliance on student loans and low parental education were also demographic risk factors. In addition, lacking budgeting skills and having insufficient time to prepare meals were also found to be predictors of food insecurity. More research is needed to understand why some students are more likely to experience food insecurity at WLU. To address problems of student hunger at WLU, the University should consider whether to offer student bursaries to vulnerable students to support their food security, as well as training to students on essential life skills like budgeting money, time management and food preparation.
Infusing Aboriginal content into curriculum: An Indigenous perspective on Gender and Food Security
Johnson S, Moraes A
The main goal of this poster presentation is to share the process and results of infusing Indigenous content into the interdisciplinary online course Gender & Food Security offered at Ryerson University.
This poster session will present a sample of a new course module created, including, learning objectives, part of the written and visual content produced, interactive tools, links, as well as discussion board questions and activities
The urgency of sharing with students a more in depth examination of gender and Indigenous food security in this course can be explained not only by the high levels of food insecurity experienced by Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, but also how women and children are specially affected.
This poster presentation also aims to share with our audience the joys of working with an Indigenous research assistant, and the extra benefit of including an Indigenous perspective on building Indigenous related content. This was possible thanks to funds from the Ryerson Aboriginal Education Council.
Translating Knowledge to Promote Community Food Security
Kristjansson E, Dubois A, Lawrence M, Burns C, Liberato S, Thomson H, Szijarto B, Svensson K, Welch V, Wingrove K, Armstrong, R, Barnett BM, Labelle P, Hossain A, Platts J, Aguilera Donoso JP, Milley P
Background: Community Food Security (CFS) interventions aim to tackle food insecurity in high income countries, however, their effectiveness is uncertain. Evidence synthesis from such interventions is essential to evaluate effectiveness and identify insights for future development. Herein, we report on a systematic review and process evaluation of CFS interventions. This project involves more than 20 experts in research and policy from Canada, Scotland and Australia.
Objectives: 1) Conduct a systematic review and process evaluation of interventions for CFS in developed countries. 2) Work with knowledge users (KUs) to inform the review and to disseminate evidence widely.
Methods: KUs helped to shape review questions, and to develop the literature search and knowledge translation strategy. Primary outcomes are household food security, dietary intake and physical, mental and social health. We searched thirteen electronic databases from 1980 to July 2016. We conducted meta-analyses where possible. The process evaluation is ongoing.
Results: We identified 24,213 records. After screening titles and abstracts, we included 444 papers to review full text for inclusion/exclusion. Studies of food subsidies, income supplements, pricing incentives, healthy corner stores, collective kitchens, community gardens and farmer’s market vouchers are included. We report the effects of each intervention and assess explanatory factors in the context and implementation.
Conclusion: This review has important implications for food security policy and programs. Our team, including KUs, will ensure wide dissemination through list serves, seminars, conferences, webinars and newsletters.
An exploration of the historical, present, and future role of an informal food economy in rural and urban communities in Newfoundland
Globally we are facing increasing food costs, with prices expected to roughly double by 2050 (IPCC, 2014). At the community and individual levels, the increasing cost of food available within the formal food economy has people looking to less expensive alternatives for food procurement. One such alternative can be found within informal food economies. This informal trade and barter system has long flourished in many communities, particularly in Newfoundland. The system dates back to an era when fish merchants would compensate fishermen for their catch in goods rather than hard currency and communities operated almost solely within a trade and barter system. However, little is written or spoken about the present and future role of the informal food economy. While literature on the historical use of informal economies is present, there are few publications exploring informal economies in food studies (Lowitt, 2013). Thus, there is a need for research to explore the current and future use of informal food economies. They have become an ingrained part of the social fabric of many communities, often a benevolent act with no desire for reciprocity, but is often acknowledged in kind. This continued role of informal food economies in many Newfoundland communities arose frequently during informal discussions, which occurred while conducting (n=60) semi-structured interviews around individual food access and procurement during 2015. The informal food economy is described – using quotes from interviews – as a unique opportunity for building strong communities and creating sustainable solutions to community food security.
Research investigating the connection between university and college student poverty and food insecurity is only just emerging but initial results are troubling. Experiences of food insecurity have the potential to impact student mental and physical health, as well as education outcomes. Therefore, it is important to investigate how prevalent food insecurity currently is among students and which students are the most vulnerable to this problem. This study used a sequential mixed methods design to examine and describe student demographics and food security status at the UofS. The first phase of the project used a cross-sectional survey to collect data regarding prevalence and severity of food insecurity, coping strategies and demographic information among UofS students. The second phase of the study used qualitative interviews with student support providers to add depth and improve understanding of the data.
Results of the survey indicate that 39.5% of post-secondary students attending the University of Saskatchewan report some level of food insecurity in the previous twelve months. Relationships were found between several student demographic and household characteristics and an increased risk of experiencing food insecurity.Qualitative interviews supported the survey results, providing insights into the inequities experienced by students facing food insecurity. University students at the University of Saskatchewan appear to be at a greater risk of experiencing food insecurity compared to the general population. Contextualized research is needed in Canada to inform health policy on campus and beyond to support success for all students.
Securing, Stabilizing and Sustaining African Immigrants Food Experience in Canada
Food systems comprises of the production, processing, marketing, consumption and disposal of food waste and recycling of such waste (composting). This poster examines food-based retail places/spaces and culture of Nigerian-Canadians with a view to promoting long-term food security and resilient food systems in our communities. In addition to qualitative narratives of the food experiences of Africans (Nigerian-Canadians) the paper also examines the location access, and acceptability of these ethnic foods and how to sustainably secure and stabilize food security among African immigrants. Poster presentation is based on a proposed research proposal on Food and West African Immigrants in Canada focusing on Nigerians and Ghanaians. The food that people consumed represented one of the closest links between them and their environment and today, food consumption habits remain key indicators of human identity, reflecting regional characteristics as well as individual and group tastes (Norton, 2010:429-430). Celebrating cultural differences through a combination of exotic food, fruits and vegetables though good, is a contradiction to self-sufficiency. These exotic foods that cannot be grown locally are imported. The complexity of food importation (middlemen, transportation costs, pollution, safety etc.) works against the principles laid out in most of the visions and action plan for a food secure community.
The Right to Food in Canada [PDF slides]
The human right to food is recognized in several international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, placing legal obligations on States to respect, protect, and fulfill this right. Yet even among the wealthiest countries having ratified those treaties, food insecurity continues to affect large proportions of their populations. Canada is one such country, with 13% of its households experiencing food insecurity. The right to food in Canada has been historically overlooked due to neoliberal governance approaches which have left responsibility for this issue in the hands of civil society organizations who are unequipped to fill the gap of state responsibility. This was demonstrated vividly in 2012 within the discourse surrounding the visit to Canada by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Canada must become more proactive in its obligation to realize food security within its borders in order to end the violation of this human right. Various blueprints for improvement have been proposed, including a national food strategy, the institution of a minimum living wage, regulation and restructuring of the agricultural sector, improved coordination across sectors for “joined-up” food policy, and explicit inclusion of the right to food in Canadian constitutional law. The latter option holds great potential by increasing the accountability of public authorities and the willingness of courts to enforce this right. Nothing less than this monumental shift will do justice to the importance of the right to food for Canadians.
In Saskatoon, 82% of pregnant women accessing a prenatal food support program, Healthy Mother Healthy Baby (HMHB), were found to be living in food insecure households. The program also witnessed women eating a large amount of processed, calorie-dense foods with little nutritional value. The popular response to this issue has been to provide education along with economic food support in order to improve consumption of specific foods. The assumptions are that improved economic access will improve dietary consumption and subsequently improve birth outcomes in this population. This response, however, does not account for the context in which women live. At intake to HMHB, 94% of women live with others with 47% of women living with children. Social expectations dictate women to be responsible for feeding their family, and women have been found to compromise their own diets in food insecure households in order to feed children. Current literature suggests that food support is largely ineffective at achieving the intended objectives, yet the program design remains a popular choice with little research on why it is ineffective. As part of a multimethod study, a critique of the program response to food insecurity and pregnancy will be conducted. Guided by a feminist and health equity lens, program theory will be compared to the lived experiences of the women these programs serve. The poster will present the methodology and framework that are being developed in order to conduct the critique, as well as an overall look at the multimethod study results to date.
Intervening in a food desert: Impacts of the Good Food Junction grocery store on food security and vegetable and fruit consumption among shoppers
Sigurdson J, Engler-Stringer R, Muhajarine N
Background: In fall 2012, the Good Food Junction (GFJ) grocery store opened in a food desert in Saskatoon, SK, then closed in January 2016 due to poor sales. The mandate of the GFJ was to provide affordable healthy food to neighbourhood residents. The GFJ was a not-for-profit cooperative social enterprise, which had a secondary goal of creating good jobs for the area’s residents. The GFJ was an important research opportunity for examining a large-scale, population health intervention in a particular food environment.
Purpose: First, to identify whether the GFJ had an impact on vegetable and fruit consumption and household food security, while also assessing the dose-response of the intervention. Second, to examine the relationship between household food security and vegetable and fruit consumption among GFJ shoppers.
Methods: This study is a longitudinal survey design. Participants were GFJ shoppers and the primary grocery shopper for the household. The survey included demographic, food frequency, household food security and self-reported health questions, and was administered 12 months post opening of the GFJ (baseline) and followed twice more at six month intervals.
Results: Analysis is on-going and will be complete in September, 2016. We hypothesize that the GFJ improved vegetable and fruit consumption and household food security of GFJ shoppers, and that a relationship between household food security and vegetable and fruit consumption will be identified.
Conclusion: The results of this study will contribute to knowledge development with regards to food environment interventions, an area of research that has been little studied to date.
Importance of Agency-level Data in the Implementation of an Additional Community Meal Program
Sutherland I, van de Hoef S, Bell-Rowbotham B
Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) food security data consistently places our Hastings-Prince Edward area in the top quartile of food insecurity prevalence relative to other Ontario areas. Bridge Street United Church’s 5 year meal distribution data from 2 programs, a wintertime daily hot meal service and a year-round weekly frozen meal pickup, shows increasing meal distributions later in the month. Based on that evidence, a third meal program was begun in March 2016, offering 2 hot meals the last week of each month. Uptake was immediately substantial and has remained so in each of the 4 months to date of the additional community meal program. Bridge Street United Church’s experience demonstrates the importance of local agency-level data to complement high-level statistical data such as that provided by CCHS. Without the evidence from local meal distribution data, the additional program would not have been implemented,
Nutritional shortcomings of food assistance quality: insights from New Brunswick, Eastern Canada
Tranchant C, Carrier N, LeBlanc C, Pépin-Filion D, Forgues E, Pautenaude LA, LeBlanc J
There are concerns about the nutritional quality of food assistance (FA) in Canada and elsewhere. This study is the first to assess the nutritional quality of in-kind FA in New Brunswick.
Multiple-case studies of food banks and soup kitchens were conducted throughout the province and corroborated by data from a survey (100 respondents from non-profit organizations) and focus groups. Food hampers and meals were assessed for energy, nutrients and food categories, with comparisons against Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) and Food Guide recommendations (adult women). Food items frequently donated to the food banks were also characterized according to their nutritional profile and glycemic index.
On average, hampers contained more than twice the daily recommendations for Grain-Products and Meat-and-Alternatives, but only half the recommendations for Vegetables-and-Fruit and Milk-and-Alternatives. Other-Foods, for which moderation is advised, were present in high proportions. Provisions for energy and important nutrients (e.g., proteins, folate, iron) exceeded the DRI by more than two times or by 2x (dietary fiber). For others (e.g., vitamin C, calcium), provisions barely met DRI. For sodium, they were 5x the DRI. For added sugars, they exceeded WHO’s recommendation. Nutritional profiling indicated that 64% of food items were in class 4 (least nutritious), 14% in class 1 (most nutritious), 8% and 14% in classes 2 and 3.
Findings suggest detrimental nutritional imbalances in the FA provided, which may contribute to malnutrition and accentuate the nutritional vulnerability of food-insecure individuals and their health concerns. Better alignment of FA with health promotion objectives is warranted.
“We don’t know”: Community responses to food insecurity in rural and small-urban settings require geographically-specific research
van de Hoef S, Bell-Rowbotham B, Sutherland I
Understanding the causes of food insecurity and translating the evidence into policy and practice require geographically-specific research. The existing household food insecurity research has gaps that inhibit effective planning and responses to food insecurity in rural and small-urban communities. Data from large-scale statistical research (e.g. CCHS) describe the prevalence of food insecurity in large geographic areas. However, these data do not describe existing local variations in the prevalence and determinants of food insecurity within those geographies, and are therefore of limited use for informing planning of community responses and policy development at a truly local level.
Much current research regarding social determinants and experience of food insecurity has been conducted in urban settings, particularly in metropolitan areas. However, some of the highest rates of food insecurity in Ontario are outside of urban and metropolitan centres. These geographies are a mixture of rural areas, small population centres and small cities. There is a dearth of evidence specific to rural and small-urban settings, and it is unclear whether and to what extent the urban research can be generalized to non-urban settings. Localized data must be available to enable evidence-informed planning to meet the challenge of food insecurity.
There is an urgent need for geographically-specific research to provide a reliable evidence base to inform community and policy responses to food insecurity in rural and small-urban settings. Community-university research partnerships would address this need by combining research expertise with local knowledge, access, and capacity for sustainable action.
Economics Factors & Food Security
van Duren E, Hansen-Sterne R
National and household level measures of food security have many economic components. For national food security, macro factors such as exchange rates, arable land, spending on agricultural R&D are examples of such factors along with many others. At the household level, micro factors such as unemployment levels, incomes derived both from the market and from government support, food prices, prices of other products and services and “food capital” (food related knowledge and skills) are key economic drivers of food affordability, and thus food security. The literature of food security in Canada, as well as for other developed countries, indicates that affordability of food is a critical determinant of food insecurity in developed countries ((Riches & Silvasti, 2014).
This paper examines the role of economic factors in food security at the national and household level by:
1) Identifying various measures/ indices of food security (The Economist-Dupont, USDA, Statistics Canada etc.)
2) Deconstructing these measures/indices and identifying their economic factors and what they contribute; i.e. assessing how they are useful in understanding food security, what factors may be missing
3) Presenting a food affordability index that can be calculated on a monthly basis for Canada and a selection of provinces (original unpublished work)
4) Discussing policy implications of using various measures/indices; for example, do they focus resources on the right problems; help create household and national capabilities to improve food security?
Bridging the Divide: Mental Health, Nutrition and Food Insecurity
This poster will provide an overview of research work completed and in progress, led by representatives from Dietitians of Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association and an academic dietitian researcher from BC. Our team has been supported twice by CIHR, first through a Planning Grant and now through a Dissemination Grant.
Food insecurity is an intrinsic variable contributing to and an outcome of mental and physical health conditions. In our first study, we asked a broad range of stakeholders (health professionals, family and friends of people with lived experience, individuals with lived experience, researchers, funders, and administrators what they thought were important questions to ask, to bridge the divide between Food/Nutrition and Community Mental Health services. Stakeholders responded to a survey, key informants were interviewed and a final workshop was held to prioritize research questions for a nutrition and mental health research agenda.
In our current work, we seek to create and support opportunities for engagement with researchers and funders, to build awareness of the identified needs for this research and to make connections for practitioners and policy makers. The presence of mental health conditions and poor nutrition are common factors related to individual and household food insecurity. We seek to bridge the divides in research, facilitate introductions of funders to researchers and promote food security through these efforts.
A place to cook: a scoping review
Background: There has been a growing concern with health equity in public health systems worldwide. It is suggested that the primary drivers shaping health are not medical treatments or genetics, but the living conditions that interact with or are imposed upon us. Food and housing insecurity are pervasive problems in North America, but the relationship between both is not well understood and is often targeted in silo interventions. Objectives: To identify literature gaps in housing and food as a combined area of concern. This will inform research and public health interventions to target both determinants together, which may help to address health inequity because of multiple determinants. Methods: A scoping review using a Social Determinants of Health conceptual framework. Results: Food security and housing are often not researched together and their relationship is not well understood. Silo interventions are ineffective in achieving health equity and addressing the social determinants of health. Pathways to address food and housing insecurity require coordinated efforts. Conclusions: Housing and food are basic determinants and are intrinsically linked. There is growing need to address the bounding effects of housing and food insecurity with coordinated efforts. Intersectionality and intersectoral collaboration are required to achieve health equity.
Confronting the Illusion: Developing a method to identify food mirages and food deserts in Winnipeg
Wiebe K, Distasio J
The identification and mapping of food deserts has become popular practice for framing discussions about food security in Canadian cities. However, while food deserts describe low-income areas with an absence of healthy food, the concept fails to account for individuals who live near healthy foods but may be unable to purchase them because of social deprivation or prohibitively high food prices. These unidentified areas are considered to be “food mirages”. This In-Brief develops a new method to classify and identify both food deserts and food mirages in Winnipeg in order to broaden the conceptual understanding of what barriers individuals face to accessing food. This research finds that while food deserts exist in Winnipeg, food mirages are even more prevalent, specifically within the inner city. This suggests that income and food affordability are more common barriers to consuming healthy food than distance is. These results emphasize the need for future policy and programing targeting the affordability of healthy food and the incomes of individuals, complemented by efforts to promote the availability of culturally sensitive foods and the promotion of nutritional and food skills education.
Addressing food security in Kelowna: developing and implementing a Community Food Assessment for the senior population [PDF slides]
Worboys J, Deegan H, Corbett J, Beischer A
Community Food Assessments (CFAs) are collaborative and participatory processes that engage community members in identifying local issues and assets to improve food security. CFAs typically explore food security among broad demographics. To date, assessments have identified, but not focused on, populations at an increased risk of food insecurity. Seniors represent a significant population facing a heightened risk of food insecurity due to the aging process, physical limitations, chronic diseases and other psychological, social and economic factors.
In Kelowna, the regional health authority, (Interior Health) has identified a priority to improve seniors’ health outcomes. In partnership with the University of British Columbia Okanagan, Interior Health employed a CFA framework to understand seniors’ food insecurity and ultimately affect systems change. Because Kelowna’s current senior population is similar to the total senior population projected for Canada in the mid 2020s, this research provides unique insight into future food security challenges among Canada’s aging population. It also offers a model for advancing initiatives that support seniors’ food security.
Two central findings emerged in this study. First, the CFA framework did not directly meet the needs of the population of interest, and may not be the appropriate mechanism for achieving systemic change. Second, while promoting and advancing local food is a central tenet of CFAs, our findings reveal that secondary factors such as transportation and housing are perceived as having the greatest impact on seniors’ food security in Kelowna. CFA frameworks may need to be supplemented to consider the unique attributes of a senior population.