Miscellany 01/07/2019
Our quarterly Research Roundup features highlights from recent studies and reports in the realm of food, health, and community belonging.

Competing Discourses of Household Food Insecurity in Canada

In a recent article, Zsofia Mendly-Zambo and Dennis Raphael at York University look at why the Canadian government has done little to make sure Canadians are food secure.

They argue that the issue is further complicated by the non-governmental organizations that have sprung up to tackle food insecurity in the absence of government action, such as food banks, community gardens, and kitchens, have depoliticized the problem, making the solution more difficult.

They also argue that there are “five competing discourses” on household food insecurity in Canada — nutrition and dietetics, charitable food distribution, community development, social determinants of health, and political economy — with each offering different causes and means of responding to the problem.

Environmental Health Assessment in Canadian Communities 

The Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds recently conducted an audit of rural and urban communities.

It’s a deep dive into the contextual determinants of health in various communities in Canada, looking at the cost of a nutritious food basket in each community, the cost of junk food, the frequency of advertisements for unhealthy food, the availability of fruits and vegetables, and more.

The audit found provincial and urban-rural differences in terms of the availability of fruits and vegetables. It also found that rural communities face higher food prices, have lower cigarette prices, and generally see less promotion of healthy choices and nutritional information in restaurants.

The researchers conclude that public health, built environment and government officials should consider these urban-rural differences in the contextual determinants of health in order to develop strategies to reduce chronic disease risk.

Disability Policy in Canada

A report by Maytree looks at the “policy Catch 22” that persons with disabilities face when it comes to disability policy.

To gain independence and increase meaningful participation, they need supports and, in order to qualify for supports, they must demonstrate incapacity. That is to say, doing worse means doing better. At the same time, if a person with a disability who is receiving supports improves their situation, they can be penalized for doing so. Doing better can then mean doing worse.

The paper argues for a move from existing policy toward a human rights approach, which would be more inclusive and equitable enabling participation in all facets of community life for all.

PROOF Visuals on Household Food Insecurity in Canada 2015-16

PROOF has released a new set of visuals on household food insecurity in Canada based on data from 2015-16. They show household food insecurity by province, among children, related to rates of social assistance, and employment by province. Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Yukon opted out of food insecurity measurement in 2015-2016 and so there is no data for these provinces.