Community food programs (CFPs), including soup kitchens and food banks, are a recent development in larger settlements in the Canadian Arctic. Our understanding of utilization of these programs is limited as food systems research has not studied the marginalised and transient populations using CFPs, constraining service planning for some of the most vulnerable community members. This paper reports on a baseline study conducted with users of CFPs in Iqaluit, Nunavut, to identify and characterize utilization and document their food security experience.
Open ended interviews and a fixed-choice survey on a census (n?=?94) were conducted with of users of the food bank, soup kitchen, and friendship centre over a 1?month period, along with key informant interviews.
Users of CFPs are more likely to be Inuit, be unemployed, and have not completed high school compared to the general Iqaluit population, while also reporting high dependence on social assistance, low household income, and an absence of hunters in the household. The majority report using CFPs for over a year and on a regular basis.
The inability of users to obtain sufficient food must be understood in the context of socio-economic transformations that have affected Inuit society over the last half century as former semi-nomadic hunting groups were resettled into permanent settlements. The resulting livelihood changes profoundly affected how food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed, and the socio-cultural relationships surrounding such activities. Consequences have included the rising importance of material resources for food access, the weakening of social safety mechanisms through which more vulnerable community members would have traditionally been supported, and acculturative stress. Addressing these broader challenges is essential for food policy, yet CFPs also have an essential role in providing for those who would otherwise have limited food access.
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Community-based adaptation (CBA) has emerged over the last decade as an approach to empowering communities to plan for and cope with the impacts of climate change. While such approaches have been widely advocated, few have critically examined the tensions and challenges that CBA brings. Responding to this gap, this article critically examines the use of CBA approaches with Inuit communities in Canada. We suggest that CBA holds significant promise to make adaptation research more democratic and responsive to local needs, providing a basis for developing locally appropriate adaptations based on local/indigenous and Western knowledge. Yet, we argue that CBA is not a panacea, and its common portrayal as such obscures its limitations, nuances, and challenges. Indeed, if uncritically adopted, CBA can potentially lead to maladaptation, may be inappropriate in some instances, can legitimize outside intervention and control, and may further marginalize communities. We identify responsibilities for researchers engaging in CBA work to manage these challenges, emphasizing the centrality of how knowledge is generated, the need for project flexibility and openness to change, and the importance of ensuring partnerships between researchers and communities are transparent. Researchers also need to be realistic about what CBA can achieve, and should not assume that research has a positive role to play in community adaptation just because it utilizes participatory approaches. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:175-191. doi: 10.1002/wcc.376 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
Community food programs (CFPs) provide an important safety-net for highly food insecure community members in the larger settlements of the Canadian Arctic. This study identifies who is using CFPs and why, drawing upon a case study from Inuvik, Northwest Territories. This work is compared with a similar study from Iqaluit, Nunavut, allowing the development of an Arctic-wide understanding of CFP use - a neglected topic in the northern food security literature.
Photovoice workshops (n=7), a modified USDA food security survey and open ended interviews with CFP users (n=54) in Inuvik.
Users of CFPs in Inuvik are more likely to be housing insecure, female, middle aged (35-64), unemployed, Aboriginal, and lack a high school education. Participants are primarily chronic users, and depend on CFPs for regular food access.
This work indicates the presence of chronically food insecure groups who have not benefited from the economic development and job opportunities offered in larger regional centers of the Canadian Arctic, and for whom traditional kinship-based food sharing networks have been unable to fully meet their dietary needs. While CFPs do not address the underlying causes of food insecurity, they provide an important service for communities undergoing rapid change, and need greater focus in food policy herein.
Food insecurity is an ongoing problem in the Canadian Arctic. Although most studies have focused on smaller communities, little is known about food insecurity in larger centres.
This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of food insecurity during 2 different seasons in Iqaluit, the territorial capital of Nunavut, as well as identify associated risk factors.
A modified United States Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey was applied to 532 randomly selected households in September 2012 and 523 in May 2013. Chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine potential associations between food security and 9 risk factors identified in the literature.
In September 2012, 28.7% of surveyed households in Iqaluit were food insecure, a rate 3 times higher than the national average, but lower than smaller Inuit communities in Nunavut. Prevalence of food insecurity in September 2012 was not significantly different in May 2013 (27.2%). When aggregating results from Inuit households from both seasons (May and September), food insecurity was associated with poor quality housing and reliance on income support (p