New Research Released by the Ottawa Food Bank Shows Impact of Novel Food Bank Strategies on Food Security Outcomes
The Ottawa Food Bank and the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security (“the Centre”) today announced the findings of one of the first longitudinal research studies of novel food banking strategies in Canada.
Conducted in partnership with researchers from the University of Ottawa from 2017-2020, the study examined the impact of ‘wrap-around’ support services and offering participants choice over what food they receive on health and food security outcomes. Those who visited food banks integrated with community resource centres were more likely to experience improved food security outcomes over time compared to those visiting other food bank models. Food bank locations that offered a “choice model” resulted in increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as increased feelings of dignity.
These results align with other research, which shows that providing non-food related resources at food banks can improve outcomes for individuals. Despite this, 64% of participants in this study had been accessing a food bank for a year or more, indicating that structural solutions that address insufficient income are needed in conjunction with community support services that provide the best possible outcomes.
“Food insecurity is primarily driven by lack of income,” said Rachael Wilson, CEO of Ottawa Food Bank. “These results suggest that there are more beneficial ways to provide help to those who need immediate food assistance, but if we want to see a significant reduction in food insecurity, it’s important to recognize the need for systemic change at the government level to address root causes of poverty.”
“Community services that provide emergency food are a critical short-term intervention and this research provides insights into how to better support people through a dignified, multi-service approach,” said Lynda Kuhn, Chair of the Centre. “Concurrently, reducing food insecurity requires a strong social safety net that ensures all Canadians have the money and resources to meet the basics of life.”
The Centre and Daily Bread Food Bank have recently partnered with researchers at the University of Toronto to explore whether these findings can be replicated in Toronto, with results expected in 2023.
The Centre’s goal is to work collaboratively across sectors to reduce food insecurity in Canada by 50% by 2030.