Food Insecurity and Women’s Health in Canada

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  • Title: Food Insecurity and Women’s Health in Canada: Does Northern and Southern Ontario Residency Matter?
  • Author(s): Areej Al Hamad, Carol Kauppi, Phyllis Montgomery, Jorge Virchez
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Health, Wellness & Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society
  • Keywords: Food Insecurity, Women’s Health, Geographical Context
  • Volume: 9
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2156-8960 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2156-9053 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Al Hamad, Areej, Carol Kauppi, Phyllis Montgomery, and Jorge Virchez. 2018. "Food Insecurity and Women’s Health in Canada: Does Northern and Southern Ontario Residency Matter?." The International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society 9 (1): 1-18. doi:10.18848/2156-8960/CGP/v09i01/1-18.
  • Extent: 18 pages


In the last decade, a massive body of research on food insecurity and health among women has emerged in various disciplines, including nursing, social work, psychology, and health geography. This article deploys an intersectional lens to identify successful coping mechanisms and the development of resilience in women living in poverty, linking food insecurity with geography, coping strategies, and health. A review of the literature reveals that, despite increasing interest in the health implications of food insecurity across multiple health and social disciplines, little is known about women’s food insecurity in different geographical contexts. This study addresses this gap in knowledge by exploring women’s experiences of food insecurity and the perceived impacts on their physical and mental health in the city of Greater Sudbury in Northern Ontario and the city of London in Southern Ontario, Canada. A purposive sampling technique was used to recruit twenty women from sites where services are provided to poor and/or homeless women. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted, audio-recorded, and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis using NVIVO 11 software. The themes that emerged are congruent with the selected theoretical framework (intersectionality). The key themes identified include food and financial hardship (e.g., food availability, accessibility, and quality; food prices; income and rent), motherhood (e.g., feeding children first), resourcefulness (e.g., food skipping and food stretching) and health perception (e.g., physical health, mental health). The study’s findings have implications for the development of strengths-based and community-based interventions targeting women experiencing food insecurity.