an examination of print media coverage of household food insecurity action in canada
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An Examination of Print Media Coverage of Household Food Insecurity Action in Canada. Patricia A. Collins, PhD School of Urban and Regional Planning, Queen’s University Canadian Public Health Association Annual Meeting May 28, 2014. Presentation Overview.

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an examination of print media coverage of household food insecurity action in canada

An Examination of Print Media Coverage of Household Food Insecurity Action in Canada

Patricia A. Collins, PhD

School of Urban and Regional Planning, Queen’s University

Canadian Public Health Association Annual Meeting

May 28, 2014

presentation overview
Presentation Overview
  • Background on HFI and HFI-Action in Canada
  • Knowledge gaps, study objective, and methods
  • Preliminary results
  • Conclusions and implications
hfi in canada
HFI in Canada
  • 13% of Canadian households are food insecure
    • 34% marginal  worry about food
    • 46% moderate  making compromises with food
    • 20% severe  forgoing food
  • Health impacts
    • Compromised nutrition
    • Adults  Low SRH, nutrition-related chronic diseases
    • Children  Overweight, low BMD, asthma

Tarasuk et al. 2014

Kirkpatrick & Tarasuk 2008

Che & Chen 2001

Vozoris & Tarasuk 2003

Dubois et al. 2011

Kirkpatrick et al. 2010

determinants of hfi
Determinants of HFI
  • Low income is primary determinant of HFI
    • 72% of households dependent on welfare
    • 38% of households dependent on EI/WC
    • 62% of households dependent on wages
  • Increasing prevalence attributable to rising costs of living
  • Proximity (or lack thereof) may not be a strong determinant of HFI

Tarasuk et al. 2014

Emery et al. 2012

Kirkpatrick & Tarasuk2010

Apparicio et al. 2007

Pearson et al. 2005

action on hfi
Action on HFI
  • Lack of coordinated provincial and federal policies to reduce HFI
    • UN rep De Schutter’s call for national food strategy in 2012
  • Neoliberalism, welfare state decline, downloading to municipalities
  • Action primarily at municipal level
    • Unable to redistribute income
    • Food-based solution to income-based problem

Riches 2002

Emery 2012

Tarasuk et al. 2012

FCM 2006

Tarasuk 2001

conceptual framework for hfi action in canada

Federal & Provincial Level Income-Based Approach

Conceptual Framework for HFI Action in Canada

Income-Support Model (e.g., social assistance, child care benefits, housing supports)

Income Security

Nutritional Status

Municipal-Level Food-Based Approach

Charitable Model

Disease Mgt

Access to (healthy) food

Household Improvements & Supports Model


Anxiety & Stress



(e.g., diabetes, CVD, stroke, hypertension, mental illness, asthma, obesity)

Community Food Systems Model


Social cohesion

Coping Skills

Collins et al. 2014

knowledge gaps and study objective
Knowledge Gaps and Study Objective
  • Food-based initiatives supported by various groups
    • Fed & prov health policy-makers, public health units
    • Local service providers, food security advocates
  • Gaps
    • Limited evidence of effectiveness of initiatives in reducing HFI
    • No evidence on how media might be driving/perpetuating support
  • Study Objective
    • To critically analyze Canadian print media coverage of HFI issues
  • Quantitative media content analysis
  • Eighteen newspapers – 2 national, 16 regional/local
  • 6 provinces – QC, ON, MB, SK, AB, BC
  • Published between 2007-2012
  • Bibliographic details
    • Title, author, newspaper, date, section, type, length
  • Initiatives profiled
    • Name, level, type, model
  • Recommendations for action
    • Yes/no, prescribed action, organizations, government level & sector
  • Tone
    • Positive, neutral, negative
article sample flowchart
Article Sample Flowchart

Articles mentioned either “food security” or “food insecurity”


Excluded articles that discussed international initiatives


Excluded articles that were not a news story, editorial, opinion/commentary or a letter to the editor


Excluded articles that defined food security/insecurity differently (e.g., food security meaning food safety)


general characteristics of article sample
General Characteristics of Article Sample
  • Nearly one-third from three newspapers
    • Vancouver Sun 14%
    • Toronto Star 9%
    • Globe and Mail 8%
  • Article Type
    • News story 72%
    • Opinion or commentary 13%
    • Letter to the editor 9%
    • Editorial 5%
responsibility for action
Responsibility for Action
  • Organizations responsible
    • Government 70%
    • Multiple orgs 16%
    • Private citizens 6%
    • NGOs 5%
    • Educational institutions 2%
    • Private corps 0.5%
    • Public health units 0.2%
findings summary
Findings Summary
  • Print media news coverage of food insecurity issues in Canada risen steadily
  • Majority of coverage profiles initiatives delivered at neighbourhood- and municipal-levels
  • Non-charitable initiatives (i.e., those from household improvements and community food systems models) positively framed
  • Municipalities implicated often and positively
conclusions implications
Conclusions & Implications
  • These findings suggest that news media may be mediating the widespread support for food-based approaches to address HFI in Canada.
  • This study\'s findings reinforce the need for critical evaluation of such initiatives to ensure that Canada\'s food-based approach to HFI action is driven by evidence, not rhetoric.
  • Senate Advisory Research Committee, Queen’s University
  • Dr. Megan Gaucher, Trent University
  • Drs. Elaine Power & Margaret Little, Queen’s University
  • Apparicio, P., M.-S. Cloutier and R. Shearmur (2007). "The case of Montreal\'s missing food deserts: Evaluation of accessibility to food deserts." International Journal of Health Geography 6(4).
  • Che, J. and J. Chen (2001). "Food insecurity in Canadian households " Health Reports 12(4): 11-22.
  • Collins, P., E. Power and M. Little (2014). "Municipal Level Responses to Household Food Insecurity in Canada: A Call For Critical, Evaluative Research." Canadian Journal of Public Health105(2).
  • Dubois, L., D. Francis, D. Burnier, F. Tatone-Tokuda, M. Girard, G. Gordon-Strachan, K. R. Fox and R. Wilks (2011). "Household food insecurity and childhood overweight in Jamaica and Quebec: a gender-based analysis." BMC Public Health31(11): 199.
  • Emery, J. C. H. (2012). Why a basic annual income is necessary to reduce food insecurity prevalence. North American Basic Income Network Conference. Toronto, ON.
  • Emery, J. C. H., A. C. Bartoo, J. Matheson, A. Ferrer, S. I. Kirkpatrick, V. Tarasuk and L. McIntyre (2012). "Evidence of the Association between Household Food Insecurity and Heating Cost Inflation in Canada, 1998–2001." Canadian Public Policy38(2): 181-215.
  • FCM (2006). Building prosperity from the ground up: Restoring municipal fiscal balance. Ottawa, ON, Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
  • Kirkpatrick, S., L. McIntyre and M. L. Potestio (2010). "Child hunger and long-term adverse consequences for health." Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine164(8): 754-762.
references cont
References (cont.)
  • Kirkpatrick, S. and V. Tarasuk (2008). "Food insecurity is associated with nutrient inadequacies among Canadian adults and adolescents." The Journal of Nutrition138: 604-612.
  • Kirkpatrick, S. and V. Tarasuk (2010). "Assessing the relevance of neighbourhood characteristics to the household food security of low-income Toronto families." Public Health Nutrition13(7): 1139-1148.
  • Pearson, T., J. Russell, M. Campbell and M. Barker (2005). "Do \'food deserts\' influence fruit and vegetable consumption? - A cross-sectional study " Appetite45: 195-197.
  • Riches, G. (2002). "Food banks and food security: Welfare reform, human rights and social policy. Lessons from Canada? ." Social Policy and Administration36(6): 648-663.
  • Tarasuk, V. (2001). "A critical examination of community-based responses to household food insecurity in Canada." Health Education & Behavior28(4): 487-499.
  • Tarasuk, V., L. McIntyre and E. M. Power (2012). Income-related household food insecurity in Canada: A policy failure to address poverty. Submission on Civil Society Priority Issue #1: Hunger, Poverty and the Right to Food. Toronto, ON, Report to Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Mission to Canada: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • Tarasuk, V., A. Mitchell and N. Dachner (2014). Household food insecurity in Canada, 2012. Toronto, ON, Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF).
  • Vozoris, N. and V. Tarasuk (2003). "Household Food Insufficiency Is Associated with Poorer Health." The Journal of Nutrition133(1): 120-126.