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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 17–20 | Cite as

Can Food Banks Sustain Nutrient Requirements?

A Case Study in Southwestern Ontario
  • Jennifer D. IrwinEmail author
  • Victor K. Ng
  • Timothy J. Rush
  • Cuong Nguyen
  • Meizi He
Article

Abstract

Background

Concerns about adequate food supply is a mounting problem in Canada, making food bank visits a necessity for over 820,000 Canadians.1 Given this reliance, the purpose of this study was to compare contents of food hampers with Canadian guidelines, at a large urban food bank in Southwestern Ontario that intends to provide 3 days worth of food per person.

Method

Thirty hampers of each available size (for 1–6 people) were sampled (N = 180). Food items were recorded and analyzed for caloric value, food group, and macro- and micro-nutrient values. Results were compared to Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) and Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating.

Results

99% of hampers did not provide 3 days worth of nutrients. Grains and cereals met the lower range of Canada’s Food Guide recommendations, and fruits and vegetables, meats and alternatives, and dairy products were below recommended levels, as were numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, B12, C, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Carbohydrates were slightly above recommended DRI, and energy from fat and protein scarcely met the minimums recommended. Hampers contained 1.6 days worth of energy per person.

Discussion

The energy available per person was below recommendations for most Canadians. Nutrients missing from the hampers can come from fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meats and alternatives. However, many low-income families have limited finances to purchase these foods which are relatively more expensive than processed foods. Encouraging more perishable food donations and storage facilities to maximize the nutritional intake for clients is imperative.

MeSH terms

Food supply nutrition social welfare 

Résumé

Contexte

Les problèmes de disponibilité alimentaire sont de plus en plus préoccupants au Canada, et la fréquentation des banques d’alimentation est devenue une nécessité pour plus de 820 000 Canadiens1. Comme ces banques jouent un rôle essentiel, nous avons voulu comparer aux directives canadiennes le contenu des paniers alimentaires distribués dans une grande banque d’alimentation d’une ville du sud-ouest de l’Ontario, censés nourrir une personne pendant trois jours.

Méthode

Nous avons étudié un échantillon de 30 paniers de chaque taille disponible (pour 1 à 6 personnes) (n=180). Les articles alimentaires ont été notés, et nous en avons analysé le nombre de calories, le groupe d’aliments et la valeur en macro- et en micronutriments. Les résultats ont été comparés aux Apports nutritionnels de référence (ANREF) et au Guide alimentaire canadien pour manger sainement.

Résultats

99 % des paniers ne contenaient pas l’équivalent de trois jours d’éléments nutritifs. Les produits céréaliers correspondaient au nombre minimum de portions recommandées dans le Guide alimentaire canadien, et les légumes et fruits, les viandes et substituts et les produits laitiers étaient en deçà des niveaux recommandés, tout comme bon nombre de vitamines et de minéraux, dont les vitamines A, D, B12 et C, la riboflavine, la niacine, le calcium, le magnésium et le zinc. Les glucides étaient légèrement au-dessus des ANREF recommandés, et les apports énergétiques provenant des matières grasses et des protéines atteignaient à peine les minimums recommandés. Les paniers contenaient un apport énergétique de 1,6 jour par personne.

Discussion

L’apport énergétique disponible par personne était inférieur aux recommandations qui valent pour la plupart des Canadiens. Les nutriments manquants dans les paniers se trouvent dans les fruits frais, les légumes, les produits laitiers et les viandes et substituts. Cependant, beaucoup de familles à faible revenu n’ont pas les moyens d’acheter ces aliments, qui sont relativement plus chers que les aliments transformés. Il faut absolument encourager davantage les dons d’aliments périssables et les installations de stockage connexes, afin de maximiser les apports nutritionnels des clients des banques alimentaires.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer D. Irwin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Victor K. Ng
    • 1
  • Timothy J. Rush
    • 1
  • Cuong Nguyen
    • 1
  • Meizi He
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Human EcologyBrescia University CollegeLondonCanada

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