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.
Canadian agricultural policy supports higher milk prices. Consequently, poor families lack sufficient funds to purchase adequate quantities of milk. Low-income lone mothers in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia suggested their preferred strategies for improved access to milk. We then built inter-sectoral support for a policy intervention to address their recommendations. Our research-to-action process led to a policy dialogue focusing on an electronic smart card that would permit the delivery of lower-priced milk to poor households. While all agreed that milk insecurity was an important issue, the project ultimately failed because of the entrenched positions of influential stakeholder groups.