Traditional and Alternative Community Food Security Interventions in Montréal, Québec: Different Practices, Different People


Food insecurity is steadily increasing in developed countries. Traditional interventions adopted to tackle food insecurity, like food banks, address the urgent need for food. By contrast, alternative interventions, such as community gardens and kitchens, are oriented towards social integration and the development of mutual aid networks. The objective of this paper is to examine whether the populations served by traditional and alternative interventions in food security differ according to measures of vulnerability. We studied newly registered participants to food security interventions. Participants were selected from a random sample of food security community organizations in a two-stage cluster sampling frame. The categorizing variable was participation in a community organization providing either traditional interventions or alternative interventions. Seven measures of vulnerability were used: food security; perceived health; civic participation; perceived social support of the primary network, social isolation, income and education. Regression multilevel models were used to assess associations. 711 participants in traditional interventions and 113 in alternative interventions were enrolled in the study. Between group differences were found with respect to food insecurity, health status perception, civic participation, education and income, but not with respect to social isolation or perceived social support from primary social network. Traditional and alternative food security interventions seem to reach different populations. Participants in traditional interventions were found to have less access to resources, compared to those in alternative interventions. Thus, new participants in traditional interventions may have higher levers of vulnerability than those in alternative interventions.

Publication Date: 
Journal Name: 
Journal of Community Health
Montreal, Quebec, Canada