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.
Although the sociodemographic characteristics of food-insecure households have been well documented, there has been little examination of neighbourhood characteristics in relation to this problem. In the present study we examined the association between household food security and neighbourhood features including geographic food access and perceived neighbourhood social capital.
Cross-sectional survey and mapping of discount supermarkets and community food programmes.
Twelve high-poverty neighbourhoods in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Respondents from 484 low-income families who had children and who lived in rental accommodations.
Food insecurity was pervasive, affecting two-thirds of families with about a quarter categorized as severely food insecure, indicative of food deprivation. Food insecurity was associated with household factors including income and income source. However, food security did not appear to be mitigated by proximity to food retail or community food programmes, and high rates of food insecurity were observed in neighbourhoods with good geographic food access. While low perceived neighbourhood social capital was associated with higher odds of food insecurity, this effect did not persist once we accounted for household sociodemographic factors.
Our findings raise questions about the extent to which neighbourhood-level interventions to improve factors such as food access or social cohesion can mitigate problems of food insecurity that are rooted in resource constraints. In contrast, the results reinforce the importance of household-level characteristics and highlight the need for interventions to address the financial constraints that underlie problems of food insecurity.
Beverage consumption by poor, lone mother-led, "milk-friendly" families living in Atlantic Canada was characterized over a one-month income cycle.
Beverage intake and food security status were assessed weekly, using a 24-hour dietary recall and the Cornell-Radimer food insecurity questionnaire. Families were classified as "milk friendly" if total consumption of milk was 720 mL on a single day during the month. Beverage intake was assessed using t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA), repeated measures ANOVA with post hoc comparisons, and chi-square analysis.
Milk consumption by milk-friendly families (76; total sample, 129) was highest at the time of the month when they had the most money to spend. During all time intervals, mothers consumed the least amount of milk and children aged one to three years consumed the most. Mothers consumed carbonated beverages disproportionately, while children of all ages consumed more fruit juice/drink. Mothers' coffee consumption was profoundly increased when either they or their children were hungry.
The quality of beverage intake by members of low-income households fluctuates in accordance with financial resources available to purchase foods. Mothers' beverage intake is compromised by the degree of food insecurity the family experiences.
Since 1989 the number of Canadian children depending on food banks has increased by more than 85%. To combat perceived hunger, breakfast and lunch programs have been initiated by localized volunteer efforts. This paper attempts to show the Foucauldian concepts of power, truths, space and time in action in feeding programs in Atlantic Canada. A potential 'relation of docility-utility' is imposed upon children by providers of feeding programs and ultimately the state. The 'power over life' or 'micro-physics of power' is accomplished through procedures that use food, rules, rewards, reinforcements, space, time, and truths. Children voluntarily subject themselves to this relation while reserving the power to resist through acts of defiance or by not attending at all. This ability to exercise one's agency allows for shifting power relations in the social dynamics of feeding programs. The potentially coercive nature of these relationships is embedded in the pleasurable environment generated by the feeding process.
As part of a larger study on food insecurity and dietary adequacy of low-income lone mothers and their children in Atlantic Canada, we examined diet quality among household members.
Network sampling for 'difficult to sample' populations was used to identify mothers living below the poverty line and alone with at least two children under age 14. Trained dietitians administered 24-hour dietary recalls weekly for one month to mothers on the dietary intake of themselves and their children. We calculated Healthy Eating Index category scores for eligible mothers (129) and children (303) using Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating and the Nutrition Recommendations for Canadians.
Diet quality of low-income lone mothers was poor (35.5%) or in need of improvement (64.5%), with no mother having a good diet. The diet quality of children varied by age, with 22.7% of children aged one to three having a good diet or needing improvement (74.6%), 2.1% of children aged four to eight and no child aged nine to 14 having a good diet, while the diets of about 85% of older children in both age categories needed improvement.
Younger children seem to be protected from poor quality diets in households with limited resources to acquire food.
Women who live in disadvantaged circumstances in Canada exhibit dietary intakes below recommended levels, but their children often do not. One reason for this difference may be that mothers modify their own food intake to spare their children nutritional deprivation. The objective of our study was to document whether or not low-income lone mothers compromise their own diets to feed their children.
We studied 141 low-income lone mothers with at least 2 children under the age of 14 years who lived in Atlantic Canada. Women were identified through community organizations using a variety of recruitment strategies. The women were asked weekly for 1 month to recall their food intake over the previous 24 hours; they also reported their children's (n = 333) food intake. Mothers also completed a questionnaire about "food insecurity," that is, a lack of access to adequate, nutritious food through socially acceptable means, during each interview.
Household food insecurity was reported by 78% of mothers during the study month. Mothers' dietary intakes and the adequacy of intake were consistently poorer than their children's intake overall and over the course of a month. The difference in adequacy of intake between mothers and children widened from Time 1, when the family had the most money to purchase food, to Time 4, when the family had the least money. The children experienced some improvement in nutritional intake at Time 3, which was possibly related to food purchases for them associated with receipt of the Child Tax Benefit Credit or the Goods and Services Tax Credit.
Our study demonstrates that low-income lone mothers compromise their own nutritional intake in order to preserve the adequacy of their children's diets.
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Comment On: CMAJ. 2003 Mar 18;168(6):709-1012642427
Responses to food insecurity in Canada have been dominated by community-based food initiatives, while little attention has been paid to potential policy directions to alleviate this problem. The purpose of this paper is to examine food security circumstances, participation in community food programs, and strategies employed in response to food shortages among a sample of low-income families residing in high-poverty Toronto neighbourhoods.
Data from surveys conducted with 484 families and neighbourhood mapping were analyzed.
Two thirds of families were food insecure over the past 12 months and over one quarter were severely food insecure, indicative of food deprivation. Only one in five families used food banks in the past 12 months and the odds of use were higher among food-insecure families. One third of families participated in children's food programs but participation was not associated with household food security. One in 20 families used a community kitchen, and participation in community gardens was even lower. It was relatively common for families to delay payments of bills or rent and terminate services as a way to free up money for food and these behaviours were positively associated with food insecurity.
While documenting high rates of food insecurity, this research challenges the presumption that current community-based food initiatives are reaching those in need. Public health practitioners have a responsibility to critically examine the programs that they deliver to assess their relevance to food-insecure households and to advocate for policy reforms to ensure that low-income households have adequate resources for food.
Food insecurity, which has been recognized as an important determinant of health, is estimated to have affected almost one in ten Canadian households in 2004. Analyses of indicators of household food insecurity on several recent population health surveys have shed light on markers of vulnerability and the public health implications of this problem. However, the lack of detailed information on the economic circumstances of households and inconsistent measurement across surveys thwart attempts to develop a deeper understanding of problems of food insecurity. To better inform the development and evaluation of policies to address food insecurity among Canadian households, more effective monitoring is needed. This requires the consistent administration of a well-validated measure of food security on a population survey that routinely collects detailed information on the economic circumstances of households. Health professionals can contribute to the amelioration of problems of food insecurity in Canada by advocating for improved monitoring of the problem at a population level.
To examine the occurrence and predictors of hunger and food insecurity over the past year and month among low-income mother-led households in Atlantic Canada.
The Cornell-Radimer Questionnaire to Estimate the Prevalence of Hunger and Food Insecurity was administered weekly for a month, with modifications, to a community sample of 141 lone mothers who took part in a larger dietary intake study. Eligible women included those living alone with at least two children under the age of 14 years in the four Atlantic Provinces and having an annual income less than or equal to Statistics Canada's low-income cut-off.
Food insecurity over the past year occurred in 96.5% of households. Child hunger was similar to maternal hunger over the one-month study period (23%), however, it was lower than maternal hunger over the past year. On multiple logistic regression analysis, maternal hunger over the past year was predicted by maternal age over 35 years (p
Little is known about how food is managed in households where food resources are scarce. In this study, the household food management behaviours utilized by food-insecure, lone mother-led families from Atlantic Canada were characterized, and relationships among these behaviours and diet quality were examined.
Thematic analysis of 24 in-depth interviews from a larger study of mother-led, low-income families was integrated with sociodemographic characteristics, food-insecurity status, and four weekly 24-hour dietary recalls for all household members to yield a family behaviour score (FBS) as a summative measure of food management behaviours, and a healthy plate score (HPS) as a measure of diet quality.
Five distinct food management behaviours were identified: authoritative, healthism, sharing, structured, and planning behaviours. An increase in the FBS was associated with a proportional increase in the HPS. Authoritative, healthism, and planning food management behaviours were the strongest predictors of the HPS for all household members (p