Trends in food retailing associated with the consolidation of smaller-format retailers into fewer, larger-format supercentres have left some rural areas with fewer sources of nutritious, affordable food. Access to nutritious, affordable food is essential for good dietary habits and combating health issues such as type-2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Many studies on food environments use inaccurate or incomplete methods for locating food retailers, which may be responsible for mischaracterising food deserts. This study uses databases of every residence in and every food retailer in and around Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada. Residences were geocoded to their precise address, and network analysis techniques were performed in a geographic information system (GIS) to determine distances between every residence and different types of food retailers (grocery stores, fast food, fruit and vegetable sources, grocery stores plus fruit and vegetable sources, variety stores), both when considering and neglecting facilities outside the area of study, to account for a deficiency in analysis termed the 'edge effect'.
Analysis of household accessibility to food outlets by neighbourhood socioeconomic distress level indicated that residents in the most distressed neighbourhoods tended to have better accessibility to all types of food retailers. In the most distressed neighbourhoods, 79 percent of residences were within walking distance of a grocery store, compared to only 10 percent in the least distressed neighbourhoods. When the edge effect was neglected, 37 percent of distance estimates proved inaccurate. Average accessibility to all food retailer types improved dramatically when food outlets adjacent to the study area were considered, thereby controlling for the edge effect.
By neglecting to consider food retailers just outside study area boundaries, previous studies may significantly over-report the actual distance necessary to travel for food. Research on food access spanning large rural regions requires methods that accurately geocode residents and their food sources. By implementing methods akin to those in this paper, future research will be better able to identify areas with poor food accessibility. Improving identification of food desert communities is a first step in facilitating more effective deployment of food policies and programs in those communities.
Cites: Can J Public Health. 2005 Jan-Feb;96(1):55-915682698
Food insecurity is a mounting concern among Canadian post-secondary students. This study was conducted to evaluate the content of food hampers distributed by University of Alberta Campus Food Bank (CFB) and to assess the cost savings to students, using these hampers. Contents of hampers distributed among 1,857 students and their dependants since 2006 were evaluated against Canada's Food Guide (CFG) recommendations and Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI). Hampers were aimed at serving university students and one to five members of their households located in Edmonton, Western Canada. One thousand eight hundred fifty-seven clients in Alberta, Canada, were included in the study. Although all hampers provided adequate energy, their fat and animal protein contents were low. Compared to the CFG recommendations, the requirements of milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives were not sufficiently met for clients using > or = 3-person hampers. None of food hampers (i.e. one- to five-person hampers) met the DRI recommendations for vitamin A and zinc. Clients of CFB received Canadian dollar (CN$) 14.88 to 64.3 worth of non-perishable food items in one- to five-person hampers respectively. Hampers provided from the CFB need improvement. Nutrients missing from the food hampers could be provided from fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat products; however, these foods are more expensive than processed food items. The CFB provides a significant amount of savings to its clients even without considering the additional perishable donations that are provided to clients. Interpretation of our data required the assumption that all clients were consuming all of their hampers, which may not always be the case. Clients that do not fully consume their hampers may benefit less from the food bank.
Because of a lack of transportation infrastructure, Old Crow has the highest food costs and greatest reliance on traditional food species for sustenance of any community in Canada's Yukon Territory. Environmental, cultural, and economic change are driving increased perception of food insecurity in Old Crow.
To address community concerns regarding food security and supply in Old Crow and develop adaptation strategies to ameliorate their impact on the community.
A community adaptation workshop was held on October 13, 2009, in which representatives of different stakeholders in the community discussed a variety of food security issues facing Old Crow and how they could be dealt with. Workshop data were analyzed using keyword, subject, and narrative analysis techniques to determine community priorities in food security and adaptation.
Community concern is high and favored adaptation options include agriculture, improved food storage, and conservation through increased traditional education. These results were presented to the community for review and revision, after which the Vuntut Gwitchin Government will integrate them into its ongoing adaptation planning measures.
Nutrition North Canada (NNC) is a retail subsidy program implemented in 2012 and designed to reduce the cost of nutritious food for residents living in Canada's remote, northern communities. The present study evaluates the extent to which NNC provides access to perishable, nutritious food for residents of remote northern communities.
Program documents, including fiscal and food cost reports for the period 2011-2015, retailer compliance reports, audits of the program, and the program's performance measurement strategy are examined for evidence that the subsidy is meeting its objectives in a manner both comprehensive and equitable across regions and communities.
NNC lacks price caps or other means of ensuring food is affordable and equitably priced in communities. Gaps in food cost reporting constrain the program's accountability. From 2011-15, no adjustments were made to community eligibility, subsidy rates, or the list of eligible foods in response to information provided by community members, critics, the Auditor General of Canada, and the program's own Advisory Board. Measures to increase program accountability, such as increasing subsidy information on point-of-sale receipts, make NNC more visible but do nothing to address underlying accountability issues Conclusions: The current structure and regulatory framework of NNC are insufficient to ensure the program meets its goal. Both the volume and cost of nutritious food delivered to communities is highly variable and dependent on factors such as retailers' pricing practices, over which the program has no control. It may be necessary to consider alternative forms of policy in order to produce sustainable improvements to food security in remote, northern communities.
Cites: Int J Circumpolar Health. 2016 Jul 05;75:31127 PMID 27388896
Network analysis provides a powerful tool to analyze complex influences of social and ecological structures on community and household dynamics. Most network studies of social-ecological systems use simple, undirected, unweighted networks. We analyze multiplex, directed, and weighted networks of subsistence food flows collected in three small indigenous communities in Arctic Alaska potentially facing substantial economic and ecological changes. Our analysis of plausible future scenarios suggests that changes to social relations and key households have greater effects on community robustness than changes to specific wild food resources.
Cites: Science. 2010 May 14;328(5980):876-8 PMID 20466926
The United States' environment and economy have been severely impacted by unintentionally introduced biological organisms for the last 100 years. Our ecosystems and biological reserves of conservation importance are regularly invaded by non-indigenous species. To help prevent future invaders from entering the ports, this project undertaken at the Port of Elizabeth proposed to: 1. Catalog the different vegetable and fruit crops entering this country; 2. Evaluate the potential risk to New Jersey crops that an introduced exotic pest might pose; and 3. Evaluate the potential that imported crops entering the U.S. have for harboring exotic pests. The New Jersey IMPORT report, or Invasive Management Promoting Open and Responsible Trade project, details a newly designed ecological risk assessment tool to evaluate entry potential of invasive pests at the Port of Elizabeth. Risk designations were assigned to shipments of four fruits; seven vegetables; and two field/forage crops based on: i) Country of origin; ii) Amounts of commodities imported; and iii) Endemic pests present in exporting countries. Between 5,000 and 180,000 tons of crops were imported into the Port of Elizabeth from October 2001 to 2003. Pest risk analyses were drafted for twenty-five intercepted insects taken from the Port Information Network. In addition, eighteen pest risk analyses were drafted for invasive fungi, bacteria, and viruses of global concern as alerted by ProMed Digest. It was concluded that three crops imported remain at high risk: apples, peppers, and tomatoes. Peaches, soybeans, lettuce, sweet corn, potatoes, squash, and eggplant imported were considered moderate risk. Blueberries, cranberries, and alfalfa were considered low risk.
This paper uses a mixed methods approach to characterise the experience of food insecurity among Inuit community members in Igloolik, Nunavut, and examine the conditions and processes that constrain access, availability, and quality of food. We conducted semi-structured interviews (n= 66) and focus groups (n= 10) with community members, and key informant interviews with local and territorial health professionals and policymakers (n= 19). The study indicates widespread experience of food insecurity. Even individuals and households who were food secure at the time of the research had experienced food insecurity in the recent past, with food insecurity largely transitory in nature. Multiple determinants of food insecurity operating over different spatial-temporal scales are identified, including food affordability and budgeting, food knowledge and preferences, food quality and availability, environmental stress, declining hunting activity, and the cost of harvesting. These determinants are operating in the context of changing livelihoods and climate change, which in many cases are exacerbating food insecurity, although high-order manifestations of food insecurity (that is, starvation) are no longer experienced.
Substituting sugar confectionery with fruit and healthy snacks at checkout - a win-win strategy for consumers and food stores? a study on consumer attitudes and sales effects of a healthy supermarket intervention.
The widespread use of in-store marketing strategies to induce unhealthy impulsive purchases has implications for shopping experience, food choice and possibly adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study was to examine consumer attitudes and evaluate sales effects of a healthy checkout supermarket intervention. The study was part of Project Sundhed & Lokalsamfund (Project SoL); a Danish participatory community-based health promotion intervention.
Consumer attitudes towards unhealthy snack exposure in supermarkets were examined in a qualitative pre-intervention study (29 short in-store interviews, 11 semi-structured interviews and three focus group interviews). Findings were presented to food retailers and informed the decision to test a healthy checkout intervention. Sugar confectionery at one checkout counter was substituted with fruit and healthy snacking items in four stores for 4 weeks. The intervention was evaluated by 48 short exit interviews on consumer perceptions of the intervention and by linear mixed model analyses of supermarket sales data from the intervention area and a matched control area.
The qualitative pre-intervention study identified consumer concern and annoyance with placement and promotion of unhealthy snacks in local stores. Store managers were willing to respond to local consumer concern and a healthy checkout intervention was therefore implemented. Exit interviews found positive attitudes towards the intervention, while intervention awareness was modest. Most participants believed that the intervention could help other consumers make healthier choices, while fewer expected to be influenced by the intervention themselves. Statistical analyses suggested an intervention effect on sales of carrot snack packs when compared with sales before the intervention in Bornholm control stores (P?
Cites: Health Promot Pract. 2010 Sep;11(5):723-3219144859
Cites: Health Promot J Austr. 2006 Aug;17(2):124-716916315
Household food insecurity constrains food selection, but whether the dietary compromises associated with this problem heighten the risk of nutrient inadequacies is unclear. The objectives of this study were to examine the relationship between household food security status and adults' and children's dietary intakes and to estimate the prevalence of nutrient inadequacies among adults and children, differentiating by household food security status. We analyzed 24-h recall and household food security data for persons aged 1-70 y from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey (cycle 2.2). The relationship between adults' and children's nutrient and food intakes and household food security status was assessed using regression analysis. Estimates of the prevalence of inadequate nutrient intakes by food security status and age/sex group were calculated using probability assessment methods. Poorer dietary intakes were observed among adolescents and adults in food-insecure households and many of the differences by food security status persisted after accounting for potential confounders in multivariate analyses. Higher estimated prevalences of nutrient inadequacy were apparent among adolescents and adults in food-insecure households, with the differences most marked for protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin B-12, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Among children, few differences in dietary intakes by household food security status were apparent and there was little indication of nutrient inadequacy. This study indicates that for adults and, to some degree, adolescents, food insecurity is associated with inadequate nutrient intakes. These findings highlight the need for concerted public policy responses to ameliorate household food insecurity.
Few authors have investigated the institutional character of charitable food programs and their capacity to address food security in Canada.
We surveyed food program managers at charitable agencies in Greater Victoria, British Columbia. We discuss the structure of the "system" of charitable food provision, the value of sourced food, types of services provided, clients' demographic profile, and the estimated healthfulness of meals served. We also describe the proportion of major food types purchased and donated to agencies.
Thirty-six agencies served approximately 20,000 meals a week to about 17,000 people. Food valued at $3.2 million was purchased or donated; approximately 50% was donated, mainly by corporations. The largest value of food purchased and donated was from meat and alternatives (40.9%) and nonperishable food items (16%). Dairy products made up the smallest share of donated foods.
Charitable food programs in Victoria depend on food donations. The proportion of dairy products and produce is low, which raises questions about the healthfulness of foods currently fed to homeless and poor people in the city.