Title

The visible and invisible occupations of food provisioning in low income families

Location

Regency Room

Start Time

1-10-2016 10:30 AM

End Time

1-10-2016 12:00 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Statement of Purpose: Food insecurity means people do not have the resources to provide the food they need. Over 8% of Canadian households experience moderate to severe food insecurity, with rates highest among lone parents, 22% of whom face moderate to severe food insecurity (Statistics Canada, 2013). While low income is clearly a risk factor for food insecurity, little is known about the occupational implications of food insecurity. This paper explores the everyday food-related occupations of low-income families in Canada.

Methods: Qualitative interviews were used to explore the eating patterns and perceptions of 105 Canadian families in ten rural and urban sites across Canada. Interviews were conducted with both teens and adults, usually interviewing each participant twice, using two photo elicitation techniques in the second interviews. The current analysis draws on a subsample of 31 families in which annual household incomes were $30,000 or less. Twenty-four of those families were comprised of an adult woman with one or more children. Drawing on data related to shopping, cooking, planning, money, and food provisioning, this paper focuses on the everyday food-related occupations of adults and teens, exploring the visible and invisible aspects of food provisioning in low income families. The meanings and priorities attached to these occupations are also examined.

Results: Planning was a significant and largely invisible component of food provisioning, including using grocery lists and budgets, using flyers and coupons, taking into account available ingredients and cooking abilities, and considering family members’ schedules and preferences. Transportation was a major concern as people engaged in “chasing the sales” to optimize the food dollar. Frequenting food banks, gardening, hunting and fishing were important occupations for food-provisioning for some. Finally, providing food was a highly meaningful component of parenting for most adults, yet the actual experience of grocery shopping on low income was often highly unpleasant.

Implications: By attending to goal-directed and purposeful everyday activities that – while often unpleasant – are nonetheless meaningful and necessary, this paper provides rich description of often-overlooked daily occupations. It details the effects of poverty on everyday occupations, a form of diversity under-examined in occupational science. In so doing, it raises questions about justice and injustice, and examines the effort behind attaining particular meanings.

For discussion: Why are some occupations relatively invisible, and to what effect? How does studying everyday occupations like food-provisioning help us to understand the impact of environments on occupations? How can ‘meaning’ and ‘choice’ in occupation best be understood in the context of poverty?

Keywords: poverty, income, food-related occupations

References

Statistics Canada. (2013). Household food insecurity, 2011-2012. Ottawa. Retrieved 16 Feb 2016, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2013001/article/11889-eng.htm

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Oct 1st, 10:30 AM Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

The visible and invisible occupations of food provisioning in low income families

Regency Room

Statement of Purpose: Food insecurity means people do not have the resources to provide the food they need. Over 8% of Canadian households experience moderate to severe food insecurity, with rates highest among lone parents, 22% of whom face moderate to severe food insecurity (Statistics Canada, 2013). While low income is clearly a risk factor for food insecurity, little is known about the occupational implications of food insecurity. This paper explores the everyday food-related occupations of low-income families in Canada.

Methods: Qualitative interviews were used to explore the eating patterns and perceptions of 105 Canadian families in ten rural and urban sites across Canada. Interviews were conducted with both teens and adults, usually interviewing each participant twice, using two photo elicitation techniques in the second interviews. The current analysis draws on a subsample of 31 families in which annual household incomes were $30,000 or less. Twenty-four of those families were comprised of an adult woman with one or more children. Drawing on data related to shopping, cooking, planning, money, and food provisioning, this paper focuses on the everyday food-related occupations of adults and teens, exploring the visible and invisible aspects of food provisioning in low income families. The meanings and priorities attached to these occupations are also examined.

Results: Planning was a significant and largely invisible component of food provisioning, including using grocery lists and budgets, using flyers and coupons, taking into account available ingredients and cooking abilities, and considering family members’ schedules and preferences. Transportation was a major concern as people engaged in “chasing the sales” to optimize the food dollar. Frequenting food banks, gardening, hunting and fishing were important occupations for food-provisioning for some. Finally, providing food was a highly meaningful component of parenting for most adults, yet the actual experience of grocery shopping on low income was often highly unpleasant.

Implications: By attending to goal-directed and purposeful everyday activities that – while often unpleasant – are nonetheless meaningful and necessary, this paper provides rich description of often-overlooked daily occupations. It details the effects of poverty on everyday occupations, a form of diversity under-examined in occupational science. In so doing, it raises questions about justice and injustice, and examines the effort behind attaining particular meanings.

For discussion: Why are some occupations relatively invisible, and to what effect? How does studying everyday occupations like food-provisioning help us to understand the impact of environments on occupations? How can ‘meaning’ and ‘choice’ in occupation best be understood in the context of poverty?

Keywords: poverty, income, food-related occupations