POSITION STATEMENT It is the position of Dietitians of Canada that household food insecurity is a serious public health issue with profound effects on physical and mental health and social well-being. All households in Canada must have sufficient income for secure access to nutritious food after paying for other basic necessities. Given the alarming prevalence, severity and impact of household food insecurity in Canada, Dietitians of Canada calls for a pan-Canadian, government-led strategy to specifically reduce food insecurity at the household level, including policies that address the unique challenges of household food insecurity among Indigenous Peoples. Regular monitoring of the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity across all of Canada is required. Research must continue to address gaps in knowledge about household vulnerability to food insecurity and to evaluate the impact of policies developed to eliminate household food insecurity in Canada. Dietitians of Canada recommends: Development and implementation of a pan-Canadian government-led strategy that includes coordinated policies and programs, to ensure all households have consistent and sufficient income to be able to pay for basic needs, including food. Implementation of a federally-supported strategy to comprehensively address the additional and unique challenges related to household food insecurity among Indigenous Peoples, including assurance of food sovereignty, with access to lands and resources, for acquiring traditional/country foods, as well as improved access to more affordable and healthy store-bought/market foods in First Nation reserves and northern and remote communities. Commitment to mandatory, annual monitoring and reporting of the prevalence of marginal, moderate and severe household food insecurity in each province and territory across Canada, including among vulnerable populations, as well as regular evaluation of the impact of poverty reduction and protocols for screening within the health care system. Support for continued research to address gaps in knowledge about populations experiencing greater prevalence and severity of household food insecurity and to inform the implementation and evaluation of strategies and policies that will eliminate household food insecurity in Canada.
A number of studies have pointed to the pressure that housing costs can exert on the resources available for food. The objectives of the present study were to characterise the relationship between the proportion of income absorbed by housing and the adequacy of household food expenditures across the Canadian population and within income quintiles; and to elucidate the impact of receipt of a housing subsidy on adequacy of food expenditures among low-income tenant households.
The 2001 Survey of Household Spending, conducted by Statistics Canada, was a national cross-sectional survey that collected detailed information on expenditures on goods and services. The adequacy of food spending was assessed in relation to the cost of a basic nutritious diet.
The person with primary responsibility for financial maintenance from 15 535 households from all provinces and territories.
As the proportion of income allocated to housing increased, food spending adequacy declined significantly among households in the three lowest income quintiles. After accounting for household income and composition, receipt of a housing subsidy was associated with an improvement in adequacy of food spending among low-income tenant households, but still mean food spending fell below the cost of a basic nutritious diet even among subsidised households.
This study indicates that housing costs compromise the food access of some low-income households and speaks to the need to re-examine policies related to housing affordability and income adequacy.
This study assessed the affordability of a basic nutritious diet for selected household types relying on income assistance (IA) by comparing potential incomes to the costs of the National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) and other essential expenditures in Nova Scotia from 2002 to 2010, and examined the adequacy of IA allowances during this time period.
The cost of the NNFB was surveyed across a random sample of grocery stores in NS during five time periods: 2002, 2004/05, 2007, 2008 and 2010, and was factored into affordability scenarios for three household types relying on IA: a family of four, a lone mother with three children, and a lone male. Essential monthly expenses were deducted from total net income to determine if adequate funds remained for the NNFB.
For each time period examined, the findings demonstrated that all household types faced a significant monthly deficit if they purchased a basic nutritious diet. In each household scenario, the potential monthly deficits increased from 2002 to 2010, ranging from $112 in 2002 for a lone mother with three children to $523 in 2010 for a lone male.
Despite increases in allowances, these findings suggest that the risk of food insecurity has increased for IA-dependent households in NS. To address this public health challenge, public health practitioners must advocate for integrated, progressive and sustainable social welfare policies that ensure that individuals and families relying on IA have adequate income and other supports to meet their basic needs, including access to a healthy diet.
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
Low-income people are most vulnerable to food insecurity; many turn to community and/or charitable food programs to receive free or low-cost food. This needs assessment aims to collect information on the barriers to accessing food programs, the opportunities for improving food access, the barriers to eating fresh vegetables and fruit, and the opportunities to increasing their consumption among food-insecure people in Cobourg, Ontario.
We interviewed food program clients using structured individual interviews consisting of mostly opened-ended questions.
Food program clients identified barriers to using food programs as lack of transportation and the food programs having insufficient quantities of food or inconvenient operating hours. They also stated a lack of available vegetables and fruit at home, and income as barriers to eating more vegetables and fruit, but suggested a local fresh fruit and vegetable bulk-buying program called "Good Food Box" and community gardens as opportunities to help increase their vegetable and fruit intake.
Many of the barriers and opportunities identified can be addressed by working with community partners to help low-income individuals become more food secure.
To examine associations between the availability of residential-area food sources and dietary patterns among seniors.
Cross-sectional analyses. Individual-level data from the NuAge study on nutrition and healthy ageing were merged with geographic information system data on food store availability and area-level social composition. Two dietary patterns reflecting lower- and higher-quality diets (respectively designated 'western' and 'prudent') were identified from FFQ data. Two food source relative availability measures were calculated for a 500 m road-network buffer around participants' homes: (i) proportion of fast-food outlets (%FFO) relative to all restaurants and (ii) proportion of stores potentially selling healthful foods (%HFS, healthful food stores) relative to all food stores. Associations between dietary patterns and food source exposure were tested in linear regression models accounting for individual (health and sociodemographic) and area-level (socio-economic and ethnicity) covariates.
Montréal metropolitan area, Canada.
Urban-dwelling older adults (n 751), aged 68 to 84 years.
%FFO was inversely associated with prudent diet (ß = -0·105; P
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
Access to varied, healthy and inexpensive foods is an important public health concern that has been widely documented. Consequently, there is an increasing interest in identifying food deserts, that is, socially deprived areas within cities that have poor access to food retailers. In this paper we propose a methodology based on three measures of accessibility to supermarkets calculated using geographic information systems (GIS), and on exploratory multivariate statistical analysis (hierarchical cluster analysis), which we use to identify food deserts in Montréal.
First, the use of three measures of accessibility to supermarkets is very helpful in identifying food deserts according to several dimensions: proximity (distance to the nearest supermarket), diversity (number of supermarkets within a distance of less than 1000 metres) and variety in terms of food and prices (average distance to the three closest different chain-name supermarkets). Next, the cluster analysis applied to the three measures of accessibility to supermarkets and to a social deprivation index demonstrates that there are very few problematic food deserts in Montréal. In fact, census tracts classified as socially deprived and with low accessibility to supermarkets are, on average, 816 metres away from the nearest supermarket and within 1.34 kilometres of three different chain-name supermarkets.
We conclude that food deserts do not represent a major problem in Montréal. Since geographic accessibility to healthy food is not a major issue in Montréal, prevention efforts should be directed toward the understanding of other mechanisms leading to an unhealthy diet, rather than attempting to promote an even spatial distribution of supermarkets.
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This study was undertaken to understand food insecurity from the perspective of households who experienced it. The results of group interviews and personal interviews with 98 low-income households from urban and rural areas in and around Québec City, Canada, elicited the meaning of "enough food" for the households and the range of manifestations of food insecurity. Two classes of manifestations characterized the experience of food insecurity: (1) its core characteristics: a lack of food encompassing the shortage of food, the unsuitability of both food and diet and a preoccupation with continuity in access to enough food; and a lack of control of households over their food situation; and (2) a related set of potential reactions: socio-familial perturbations, hunger and physical impairment, and psychological suffering. The results substantiate the existence of food insecurity among Québecers and confirm that the nature of this experience is consistent with many of the core components identified in upstate New York. This study underlines the monotony of the diet, describes the feeling of alienation, differentiates between a lack of food and the reactions that it engenders, and emphasizes the dynamic nature of the experience.