Conference Archive: Advancing Food Insecurity Research in Canada

November 17-18, 2016


It has been 35 years since the first food bank opened in Canada, 22 years since questions about household food insecurity first appeared on national surveys, and 10 years since we began systematically monitoring this problem in Canada. Over this period, research has been conducted to describe the extent of the problem, who is affected, health and other consequences, and the lived experience of food insecurity. There have also been critical examinations of current responses and policy directions.

This conference will provide an opportunity to share new and emerging research in food insecurity. Conference attendees can expect to learn what is known about the relationship between food insecurity and health, how food insecurity interfaces with social vulnerability, and what the broader social and economic implications of this problem are. The conference will facilitate discussion about the impact of existing policy interventions and the potential for new policy ideas like a basic income to tackle food insecurity. Attendees will gain an understanding of how the problem of food insecurity has been framed and how this has led to food-based rather than income-based responses in Canada. The conference will also provide a forum for food insecurity research from other high-income countries such as the US and the UK, facilitating cross-fertilization of ideas. Additionally, the conference will be a place to discuss how food insecurity research has been (and can be) used to inform the work of civil society organizations and health practitioners. At Advancing Food Insecurity Research in Canada 2016, we will take stock of current knowledge gaps so that we can forge an agenda for future research that will lead to more effective responses to food insecurity in Canada.


Report title: Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2014


Advancing Food Insecurity Research in Canada

Presenters: Herb Emery (University of New Brunswick) (PDF slides), Craig Gundersen (University of Illinois) (PDF slides), Catherine Mah (Memorial University) (PDF slides), Lynn McIntyre (University of Calgary) (PDF slides), Valerie Tarasuk (University of Toronto) (PDF slides)

At this opening plenary, PROOF Researchers will present an overview of PROOF’s work.

Insights from Other Countries

Presenters: Colleen Heflin (University of Missouri) (PDF slides), Rachel Loopstra (University of Oxford) (PDF slides), James Ziliak (University of Kentucky) (PDF slides)
Chair: Craig Gundersen (University of Illinois)

At this plenary, three leading food insecurity researchers from the US and UK will provide an international perspective on research in this field, reflecting on what they see as the important directions going forward.

The Social Construction of Food Insecurity

Presenters: Elizabeth Dowler (University of Warwick) (PDF slides), Elaine Power (Queen’s University) (PDF slides), Janet Poppendieck (City University of New York)
Chair: Lynn McIntyre (University of Calgary)

Drawing on perspectives from the UK, US, and Canada, speakers will discuss the emergence and evolution of food insecurity as a problem in high-income countries, considering why certain “frames” or ways of understanding have gained traction in the public discourse and policy arenas while others have not. Speakers will reflect on what they see as critical issues in moving beyond food based, charitable responses toward more effective responses.

Using Research to Inform Advocacy

Presenters: Diana Bronson (Food Secure Canada), Mary Ellen Prange (Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH)) (PDF slides), Lauren Goodman (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK))
Chair: Valerie Tarasuk (University of Toronto)

Speakers from organizations that are leaders in advocacy for policy reforms to address food insecurity in Canada will discuss how they see the interface between research and advocacy. They will reflect on what has been most useful, existing gaps in knowledge and other challenges associated with using research, as well as what advocacy opportunities lie ahead.

Future Research Directions

Hasan Hutchinson, the Director General of the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion will provide a government perspective on household food insecurity in Canada.

This presentation will be followed by an open discussion on future directions for food insecurity research in Canada. To start this conversation, three researchers will share their reflections and insights gained over the conference period.

Discussants: Lynn McInytre (University of Calgary), Elaine Power (Queen’s University), Valerie Tarasuk (University of Toronto)
​Chair: Catherine Mah (Memorial University)​


PROOF wishes to recognize the following organizations for their generous support of Advancing Food Insecurity Research in Canada.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (INMD)