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Prevalence and severity of household food insecurity of First Nations people living in an on-reserve, sub-Arctic community within the Mushkegowuk Territory

Skinner, Kelly, Hanning, Rhona M, Tsuji, Leonard JS
Public health nutrition 2014 v.17 no.1 pp. 31-39
Canadians, First Nations, adults, at-risk population, children, community health, food security, households, markets, nutrition, surveys, traditional foods, Ontario
To measure and describe the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity in a remote on-reserve First Nations community using the Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM) and to evaluate the perceived relevance of the HFSSM for this population. Household food security status was determined from the eighteen-item HFSSM following the classifications developed by Health Canada for the Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2·2 Nutrition. One adult from each household in the community was invited to complete the HFSSM and to comment on its relevance as a tool to measure food security for First Nations communities. Sub-Arctic Ontario, Canada. Households (n 64). Seventy per cent of households were food insecure, 17 % severely and 53 % moderately. The prevalence of food insecurity in households with children was 76 %. Among respondents from homes rated as having severe food insecurity, all (100 %) reported worrying that food would run out, times when food didn't last and there wasn't money to buy more, and times when they couldn't afford to eat balanced meals. The majority of respondents felt the HFSSM did not capture an accurate picture of food security for their situation. Aspects missing from the HFSSM included the high cost of market food and the incorporation of traditional food practices. A high prevalence of household food insecurity was reported in this community. On-reserve remote First Nations communities may be more susceptible to food insecurity than off-reserve Aboriginal populations. Initiatives that promote food security for this vulnerable population are needed.