This chapter begins with an examination of the nutritional vulnerability of homeless youth and the many strategies they employ in their efforts to satisfy basic food needs. We also explore the meaning of food for youth who are homeless and unable to choose food they prefer. This section of our chapter draws heavily from dietary intake assessments (analyses of the level of nutrition in a diet), survey interviews, and in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with a sample of homeless youth in Toronto (2003-04). The role of community programs in helping youth achieve adequate nutrition is then be critically examined. Data from a recent inventory of charitable food services in Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto, Quebec City, and Halifax is used to develop a picture of food assistance options for homeless youth in these five cities, and explore barriers and opportunities for providing a more effective community-based system of food supports.
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