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Article
Publication date: 26 August 2014

Valerie Tarasuk, Naomi Dachner and Rachel Loopstra

Similar to the recent emergence of food banks in other affluent nations, the genesis and ultimate entrenchment of food banks in Canada has been tightly intertwined with…

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Abstract

Purpose

Similar to the recent emergence of food banks in other affluent nations, the genesis and ultimate entrenchment of food banks in Canada has been tightly intertwined with the dismantling of the welfare state. Through an examination of Canadian data, the authors elucidate the implications of entrenching voluntary, extra-governmental, charitable food assistance programs as an adjunct to publicly funded social assistance programs. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Publicly available food bank reports, population health survey data, and the results of a study of low-income families in Toronto are reviewed to examine the food security status of social assistance recipients and their use of food banks.

Findings

In 2012, 70 percent of households in Canada who were reliant on social assistance were food insecure. Social assistance recipients comprise at least half of food bank clientele and have done so for as long as this information has been tracked, but the assistance provided by food banks appears insufficient to alter households’ food insecurity. Although food banks currently distribute over 200 million pounds of food annually, the scale of their operations pales in comparison to the food needs of those who seek their help.

Originality/value

In the 30 years since food banks began in Canada, there has been considerable research into this response, as well as extensive population monitoring of food insecurity. Canada provides an informative case study of an affluent country's long-term dependency on charitable food assistance and the impact this has on the food insecurity of those reliant on social assistance programs.

Details

British Food Journal, vol. 116 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0007-070X

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Article
Publication date: 12 March 2014

Laura Lachance, Michael Sean Martin, Pamela Kaduri, Paula Godoy-Paiz, Jorge Ginieniewicz, Valerie Tarasuk and Kwame McKenzie

The purpose of this paper is to increase the understanding of adolescents’ perceptions of food insecurity and diet quality, and the impact that these factors have on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to increase the understanding of adolescents’ perceptions of food insecurity and diet quality, and the impact that these factors have on mental health.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used a community-based research approach. It gathered qualitative data from 11 in-depth interviews conducted with adolescents aged 13-19. Participants were recruited through various programmes they attended at a community organization in Toronto.

Findings

Overall, results indicate that respondents clearly identified a linkage between food insecurity and mental health. They also identified several effects of poor diet quality on mental health. Respondents understood food insecurity and poor diet quality to exist on a continuum. However, they also identified other reasons for making poor dietary choices such as peer pressure. Mental health effects of food insecurity and poor diet quality included sadness, stress, worry, anger, shame, impaired concentration, and fatigue.

Practical implications

This research will help to inform future research design in the field of social determinants of mental health. As well, the findings will help guide the development of interventions targeted towards this vulnerable age group.

Originality/value

This is the first qualitative study to explore food insecurity and poor diet quality, as existing on a continuum, from the perspective of adolescents. The authors are also the first to explore the impact of these factors on the mental health of adolescents, based on their own understanding. What is more, the authors focused on a culturally diverse population living in an underprivileged neighbourhood in Toronto. The authors chose this population because they are at higher risk of both food insecurity and poor diet quality.

Details

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, vol. 7 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-0980

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